photo: Joe Shlabotnik
photo: Joe Shlabotnik

Backpage.com has become a popular site for Utah men and women to find sex workers online to fulfill their needs. It also may be a target of undercover police looking to arrest prostitutes. Users must sign a disclaimer upon choosing the “escort” category, part of which states: This section contains sexual content, including pictorial nudity and adult language. It is to be accessed only by persons who are 18 years of age or older  . . . A false representation may be a criminal offense. Which clearly explains the adult activity involved. In addition, ads stating such things as sexual techniques, listing body measurements, posting graphic pictures, and detailing prices really highlight the sex work involved to the police searching the internet for such things. Although many Utahns use the internet to find a prostitute, the sites are still policed by a few undercover cops in which the sex workers must diligently watch for.

photo: Lucius Beebe Memorial Library
photo: Lucius Beebe Memorial Library

Sex workers do not have a legal source of income, something that makes filing for income taxes quite difficult. However, there are strong incentives for Utah sex workers to file taxes. A person, whether in Utah or any other state, needs a credit history to get a credit card, insurance, a loan, etc . . . To build a credit history one needs to prove a viable source of income, something that would be reported on yearly income taxes.  Furthermore, penalties in Utah and the USA are much more serious for tax evasion then for prostitution. The first problem a sex worker would encounter when filling out their tax forms would be the line for listing their profession. Perhaps the sex workers could file under 711510 (independent artists, writers and performers), or under the number for amusement and recreation services, or under “other personal services”. If a Utah sex worker has earned a professional license or degree they could possibly file under a profession related to their degree or certification. It could be argued that the 5th Amendment allows a prostitute to leave the profession line on tax forms blank, or to provide another answer, due to one’s privilege against self-incrimination. Perhaps of aid to Utah sex workers is the fact that the IRS cannot legally disclose tax returns to law enforcement unless the individual is already under investigation. The opposite is not true; law enforcement officials can inform the IRS when they are accusing a Utah sex worker or other criminal of violating tax laws.

(IRS Circular 230 Legend: Any advice contained herein was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state, or local tax penalties. Unless otherwise specifically indicated above, you should assume that any statement in this ‘blog’ relating to any U.S. federal, state, or local tax matter was written in connection with the promotion or marketing by other parties of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed in this ‘blog’. Each taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.)

photo: Stian Eikeland
photo: Stian Eikeland

Prostitution clientele or “johns” often discuss their preference of prostitutes as well as law enforcement’s efforts to crackdown on them.  These johns share the information on websites and blogs that are coded in order to keep law enforcement out of the loop. Discussion ranges from ratings of prostitutes, to current undercover cops and ongoing police stings. The internet is therefore helping to further the trade of prostitution by keeping the johns and prostitutes safe as well as helping to market those with better skill-sets. If a john is not able to use such sources to circumvent the law, he should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney who has experience with sex crimes, before speaking to law enforcement.

photo: clspeace
A possible gift to a Sugar Baby, photo: clspeace

Mature, single, wealthy men or women with a lot of money to spend are starting to gravitate towards Sugar Daddy websites. Sugar Daddies (or Sugar Mamas) are looking for young, attractive boyfriends and girlfriends to spend their money on in exchange for “companionship”. Either side can sign up for dating websites looking for a Sugar Mama or a Sugar Baby to fulfill their needs. However, being as this type of relationship is basically money and a high class lifestyle in exchange for what is probably sexual intimacy, it has been readily compared to prostitution. An ABC News special examined these Sugar Daddy relationships, a sugar baby named Melanie told ABC about her sugar baby friend, “She is 100 percent having sexual intercourse with that man. Escort means usually a nicer word for prostitute, but [a] sugar baby is a relationship, you’re dating someone but you have a monthly allowance”(ABC News, The Anatomy of Dating A Sugar Daddy Jan 2010). Sugar Babies often receive more then an allowance, including expensive luxury cars, the use of yachts, and designer regalia. Some interesting Sugar Daddy websites are: www.sugarbaby4u.com, seekingarrangement.com, affluentarrangements.com. If you find yourself involved with the law concerning this type of internet use or relationship you should contact the best possible defense attorney, as the legality of this type of dating is a legal issue yet to be determined and your rights must be protected.