The Italian Almanac

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No Taxation

A Uruguayan prostitute working in Italy is refusing to pay taxes on her suspected earnings since she came to the country in 2004. The woman, 32, was recently presented with a bill of 90,000 euros ($140,000) for undeclared income the Italian tax man has estimated at more than 350,000 euros ($550,000). The Finance Guards did not say how they arrived at the figure but the woman herself told a Parma paper she had regular professional clients from as far away as Milan who paid her a sort of monthly 'salary'.

She said she was determined to fight the case in the courts, arguing that she should not be expected to pay taxes for an often dangerous activity in which she had never been protected by the law. ''I've had to protect myself. No one listened to me when I asked for help. The police said they couldn't step in unless blood was shed. And now they're asking for taxes?'' The woman's lawyer said authorities should provide regulated and protected facilities for prostitution if they wanted to tax sex workers. He also pointed out that prostitution itself is not a crime in Italy, as opposed to living off prostitutes' earnings.

The case rekindled parliamentary debate about legalising prostitution with leftwing MPs calling on the government to ''recognise as a profession the provision of remunerated sexual services from one consensual adult to another''. The rightwing Northern League, which has backed a hard line on prostitution, said the woman should be thrown out of the country.