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Hungary: Prostitutes get taxman’s approval

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Prostitutes in Hungary have been given permission to apply for official business credentials in an effort to defeat the country’s black economy trade.

Ágnes Bakonyi, spokeswoman for the tax authority APEH, told InfoRadio that the agency would help the prostitutes become entrepreneurs by giving them advice on bookkeeping and legal issues. Prostitution has already been legalized in Hungary - though only within certain zones - but the new move is aimed at bringing sex workers into the legal economy. The government has promised a crackdown on Hungary’s underground economy as part of efforts to reduce its budget deficit, and according to the tax authority major revenues can be raised from the sex industry. “Some 20,000 people live from prostitution in Hungary. Last year’s estimates show that around Ft 180 billion ($1 billion) from the sex industry went untaxed,” said Bakonyi.

Ágnes Földi, head of the Hungarian Prostitutes’ Interests Protection Association, said that some 500 women had applied for the licensing scheme, which has an initial 110 slots, and that 20 had been issued permits. Földi said that many sex workers were keen to sign up because they knew it was in their best interests to work legally and consequently gain access to mortgages and other services. “Our aim is to make sex work become accepted as any other job.” “They recognize the possibility,” she said, “that they make their lives easier with this.” (eux.tv)

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