Action Alert!

Taxing the world's oldest profession

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Aug 17, 2011

An Italian lawmaker has suggested legalizing prostitution, in order to regulate the industry and collect taxes.

Maurizio Marchetti, a member of the ruling People of Freedom party, asks: “Is it moral for a person to work illegally, earning €10,000 a month and feeding a criminal underworld, while there are people who are working honestly and cannot get to the end of the month?”

You see the point, I’m sure. Prostitution is immoral because hookers don’t pay taxes. Tax them, and the moral problem disappears.

Oh, yes, and this might be a relevant consideration as well: with at least 70,000 “professional women” believed to by plying their trade, the cash-strapped government could use the extra revenue.

The ANSA report on this proposal for reform includes a puzzling bit of background information:

Prostitution is not illegal in Italy but profiting from the sex trade is against the law.

So a prostitute can go about her business legally in Italy, as long as she doesn’t seek to profit from it. But if she doesn’t seek a profit, then she isn’t a prostitute, is she?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Aug. 20, 2011 3:16 PM ET USA

    St. Thomas Aquinas, quoting St. Augustine (De Ordine)he comes to a shocking conclusion: "If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust." See ST II-II, q. 10, a. 11. Following St. Augustine, he would TOLERATE the evil of prostitution to avoid a greater evil. Amazing, but there it is. If prostitution is tolerated in a Christian society, I would assume that prostitutes should pay taxes on their ill-gotten incomes. Here in the U.S., they are required to, just like Al Capone.

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Aug. 20, 2011 9:29 AM ET USA

    Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This piece is a perfect example. Father Elijah, we need you. Please pray for all those lost in this 'profession' and those addicted to behaviors contrary to what God created us for in this world.