It’s not that hard to go legit as a hooker, so I thought I would share a few things that I have found in case any other working girls who read my blog are interested.
The first thing is to remember that we are actually in a pretty fortunate position here in New Zealand, in that it is legal to be a working girl and we don’t have to hide our money under the mattress. Because of this, there are many advantages to doing things properly as an independent escort.
Back in the day when I was working illegally, prior to the PRA, you had to be really careful about not looking like you earned too much as prostitution was illegal, and we assumed that this meant that any earnings you made could be seized. This also meant that you could not really bank your money, and so instead some of us used to rent a bank deposit box for our surplus dosh, after we had spent as much cash as possible getting used to living the high life, not a practice I would recommend. This was the cause of some very bad money habits I personally had for a while which took some determined unlearning once I got out in the real world.
I was in Sydney, Australia and I rented a safe deposit box from Westpac bank. It was quite a grand old bank building in the CBD and when I went there, there was a very polite man standing at the door, who always addressed me as Madam, who would let me into the locked deposit box area, retrieve my little cash box and show me to a little booth, like a private telephone box without windows, where I would add or take away from my stash of bills. The experience was rather fun. I remember that I would often see older ladies there, maybe stashing away their jewels, or perhaps also their ill-gotten gain.
While it was handy for me to have this cash to fall back on, it was “dirty money” and you couldn’t really do anything significant with it, other than travel or buy jewellery or art or things like that. With earnings from prostitution, you couldn’t buy property with a mortgage, although a couple of my friends did manage to, and one of my friends then bought more property with the equity on the first, but from memory, to get on the property ladder, she had to get one of her clients to manipulate some figures or information so that it looked like she was working for him and/or he had gifted her the deposit (or something, I’m not too sure on the details) and I’m not really sure how the IRD perceived things there.
Secondly, remember that being able to bank our money in this day and age is an amazing opportunity for a working girl, because it means you can actually use it well. However, as one doesn’t really know what ones shelf-life in the industry is, I’m not sure if there are (and I haven’t heard of any banks) willing to lend money for property or anything big like that to a working girl.
Like every business, it’s a good idea to have a bank account specifically for earnings from sex work, rather than putting cash from earnings into a personal account that you then use for day to day spending. From your business account, you can then transfer over a set amount every week to your personal account as a wage or draw for personal expenses, just as your employer if you had one would do with your wages. Some banks allow you to have other accounts under the same account for free (where you can also keep a certain amount for tax or savings). I was told that if you keep 25% of your earnings aside after expenses there you should be right, but the actual tax rates start at 10.5% for less than $14,000; 17.5% for the bracket between $14,000 and $48,000 and 33% for the bracket between $48,000 and $70,000, so keeping aside 25% does seem quite insufficient considering a young, attractive sex worker could earn a sizable amount.
Besides money for tax, it’s good to keep a prudent reserve, to cover unforeseen illness and other events, not to mention retirement. You can also join a Kiwisaver fund, find out more about which one at Sorted, the independent money guide. Paying tax and being legitimate impacts other things of course as well, for example, if you have children who are intending to study and who intend getting a student loan where your income is taken into account, so consider this when you figure out how much you should save to cover you in the future.
Obviously if you are legitimate and pay taxes, you can’t really be on any government benefit as far as I know, as it is likely that you would be earning more than $80 per week or whatever the cut off is before your benefit is affected. However, if you go off a benefit to do sex work and then for any reason find working is not for you, I believe that there is no stand-down period if you apply for a benefit with WINZ. I heard about this from the NZPC and policies do change, so if it is a concern for you, you can make an (anonymous, if you prefer) phone enquiry and find out for certain.
I think it is just a matter of time before the IRD do some kind of “sting”. If you are advertising, which you have to if you want new clients, then it is pretty easy for you to be located by authorities, whether it is the IRD or WINZ, ACC or anyone with a vested interest in getting money that you actually owe them – all they would need to do is scan the advertisements online or in the newspapers then call and make a booking to be lead straight to you. So to be on the safe side, approach your finances and taxes maturely and without fear. It seems unfair to some people who are not used to handing so much money to the government for taxes etc but remember this money is used to pay for services we all need, like the cops who now protect us, and the health department who provide free STI health checks for us, for example. Death and taxes are certain and there is just no getting around it, although legally minimising your taxes is what your tax agent or accountant and other money experts are supposed to do.
Even if you are only a sex worker part time, you would be earning a decent enough amount comparable to people working in a 40 hour a week job and it is a good feeling to know you are doing the right thing and paying tax like other adults. One day when most working girls pay tax, even though we will *never* earn the respect of most of society for this, we will have a lot more power as individuals and as a collective when we can use our money legitimately for however long we are working for, and hopefully still benefit from the money we have earned beyond that time.