Tampon tax: This country just made a big move to bin it

Amber Rose

Tampons: Not a luxury item.
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Australia has just made a landmark decision to scrap its controversial tampon tax.

On Monday, the country’s Senate passed a bill drafted by the Greens party to remove the tax on tampons and feminine hygiene products, previously considered by law to be “luxury” items.

In Australia, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is charged on these sanitary items that women require on a monthly basis. 

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Since 2000, a 10 percent GST has been added to the cost of tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges and 11 other feminine hygiene products. They’re incredibly considered “non-essential items,” by the Australian government, while other health-related products like condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches are exempt from the tax.

Public protest against the tax has been fervent in Australia over the last few years, with critics calling it discriminatory and unjust, and protests taking place across the country. One 2015 petition titled “stop taxing my period,” garnered over 100,000 signatures.

Although the Australian Labor party had declared they would remove the tampon tax if elected to government, the bill was proposed and passed by Greens senator Janet Rice, who argued the tax was undeniably based on gender.

“If it were cisgender men who required sanitary products in relation to a natural function of their bodies every month, it is unlikely that the GST would have been added in the same manner,” said Rice in May during a second Senate reading of the bill.

“The current Act amounts to a tax on the biology of people who menstruate and it never should have existed in the first place.”

“The current Act amounts to a tax on the biology of people who menstruate and it never should have existed in the first place.”

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So, is it all in the bag? Not yet. Although the bill to ditch the tampon tax has been passed by the Senate, now Australia’s state and territory governments must agree to any change to the GST.

As BuzzFeed points out, all states and territories with a Labor government support ditching the tampon tax, while those with a Liberal government are not in favour of it. So we’ll see.

“For state, territory and federal budgets this tax is a drop in the ocean. The impacts of the GST on sanitary products are actually felt by people who need to purchase the products,” said Rice in May.

“This tax disproportionately affects low income women and transgender people, many of whom have insecure work and housing. It’s easy for some to dismiss this as a non-issue. But there are people who are sometimes faced with having to make a choice between buying tampons or buying food. The fact that they’re charged more for an essential sanitary product because of the GST is unacceptable.”

What about the U.S. tampon tax?

It’s almost the same situation in the U.S., where menstrual products are excluded from tax-exempt product categories in most states. 

According to NPR, so far, nine states have exempted menstrual products from their sales tax — Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida — with seven more states introducing similar legislation.

Activist organisations like Period Equity have been campaigning against America’s tampon tax for years, most recently releasing a PSA starring celebrity Amber Rose, which sees her showing off a diamond pendant to keep a single tampon in. 

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“Where else would you keep something 36 states tax as a luxury?” the ad asks.

Neighbouring Canada ditched its national goods and services tax on feminine hygiene products in July 2015. Go team.

Isn’t there a tampon tax in the UK too?

In the UK, sanitary products were considered by the European Commission in 1977 (seriously, 40 years ago) as “luxury” or “non-essential” items. 

Tampons, sanitary pads and other menstrual products are also subject to tampon tax, or a value-added tax (VAT) of 5 percent — though notably, the standard VAT rate for any goods or services in the country is 20 percent. 

In 2016, the European Union voted to allow member states, including the UK, to either keep or scrap their tampon taxes, giving more independent flexibility to each country — for example, France cut the VAT on sanitary products from 20 percent to 5.5 percent in 2015.

Some UK retailers have gone slightly rogue, discounting their prices as a result of the VAT. In July 2017, Tesco became the first UK retailer to cover the cost of the tampon tax, discounting approximately 100 women’s menstrual products by 5 percent — exactly the VAT rate.

Look, anyone who’s found themselves on a plane, in a meeting, in a class, anywhere without a tampon — or has just seen that episode of Broad City — will know how bloody essential these items are for women. There is nothing luxury about them, and taxing them as such is ludicrous. 

Tampon tax, get in the (allocated) bin.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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