Marketplace Scratch Pad

Sex, sex, tax, tax

Scott Jagow Apr 6, 2009

Could there be two words in the English language that get attention more quickly than those? But this isn’t false advertising. I’m going to tell you about a tax on sex.

Tomorrow, Nevada’s state senate takes up a bill that would impose a $5 tax on sex acts by prostitutes. Senator Bob Coffin came up with the idea:

Coffin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee, said the state is desperate for revenue and he “will go anywhere” to find it, including the state’s 25 legal brothels.

The Nevada Brothel Owners Association supports the tax, which Coffin estimated would raise at least $2 million a year. Part of the money would fund a counseling agency for sex workers.

So either the senator is suggesting that there are 16,000 sex acts per year per brothel (43 a day), or he’s expecting illegal prostitutes to also fill out a 1099.

No matter, the bill is unlikely to pass. Nevada’s governor opposes it because a tax on prostitution would mean admitting that prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada. The governor doesn’t want to do that.

If you’d like to read about how other cities and states are trying to boost their local economies without taxing sex, USA Today has a story on communities printing their own money:

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.

Recession creativity. I like it.

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