By Juan Soto
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) warned pimps and sex traffickers that the Internal Revenue Service is watching over their businesses.
The congresswoman is pushing a bill that would give the IRS funding and resources to go after “johns” and traffickers for violating tax laws. Maloney said the new law would focus on the “willful failure of traffickers to file returns, supply information, or pay tax where the taxpayer is an aggravated non-filer.”
Congress passed the bill last week, and is now waiting for Senate approval.
“Trafficking is an industry that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” Maloney said. “But the pimps and traffickers rarely pay taxes.”
The legislation would fund the IRS with about $4 million to prosecute sex traffickers for tax law violations.
Maloney made the announcement next to a sex trafficking survivor.
“The bill… is very important because it offers the promise to support survivors of human trafficking,” said Shandra Woworuntu, who came to the United States for a job in Chicago, but instead was kidnapped at JFK, had her passport stolen and was forced into sex slavery in New York for about one year.
She escaped from her trafficker in Brooklyn.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act will also provide protection for whistle-blowers and financial assistance for the victims.
The new law “allows survivors to receive benefits to empower them to be able to re-integrate into the community to fulfill their dream,” said Woworuntu, an East Elmhurst resident.
The U.S. representative also said she will reintroduce the Human Trafficking Fraud Enforcement Act, also known as the “Pimp Tax,” legislation that would provide protection for whistle-blowers.
Maloney pointed out that Al Capone, an American gangster, was busted, thanks to tax laws.
“Similarly we should be using tax laws to trap the monsters that earn millions off the misery of victims of this modern day form of slavery,” Maloney said.
She noted the bill gives prosecutors “another tool to crack down on traffickers.” Maloney said Congress also passed the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act she introduced with U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
Melina Lito, trafficking program officer for Equality Now, an international organization that advocated for the human rights of women and girls, welcomed the bill.
“We strongly believe that combating commercial sexual exploitation must be grounded in targeting the demand which fuels sex trafficking,” Lito said. “We are encouraged by the act’s emphasis on criminalizing traffickers and pimps, as well as those who pay for sex with victims of trafficking.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.