“So far this year I’ve spoken with several women who want to make things right,” said Pia Blank Thörnroos, a legal expert with Sweden’s Tax Authority, to the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.
While it remains against the law to purchase sex in Sweden, selling sex is perfectly legal according to Sweden’s unique prostitution law, which came into force in 1999.
Moreover, prostitution has been considered a business activity in Sweden since 1982 and as a result proceeds from the sale of sex subject to taxation just like any other form of income.
“You have to keep track of all your income and expenses; all compensation should be accounted for,” explained Blank Thörnroos.
“One should really have accounting records. And in actuality [customers] should write out a receipt, because the transaction is considered a private operation which is subject to value added tax. But customers’ names need not be on the receipt.”
Income recorded on prostitutes’ tax returns gives them the right to sick-leave pay, parental leave benefits, and a pension.
“It’s important to pay taxes if you want to live a normal life,” said ‘Lisa’, a prostitute who spoke with the newspaper.
But Christian Democrat Riksdag member Désirée Pethrus Engström thinks that legitimizing prostitution by collecting taxes on the proceeds sends the wrong message.
“Economic security is something which makes a situation permanent. And that in turn can encourage prostitution, which is wrong,” she tells GP.
“It’s indirectly illegal to be a prostitute because it’s illegal to buy sex. But it’s a tough question to which there isn’t a simple solution.”