Campaign seeks to scrap bloody annoying tampon tax

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram It’s been roughly two decades since the GST consumption tax was introduced, and the non-exemption of sanitary products, as they remain classified under the… “luxury” bracket, is still being debated.We are, however, probably closer to seeing the tax removed than ever before, following last week’s statement of support for the move by the Federal Government.“This is just a practical issue that needs to be resolved,” Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison told News Corp, admitting that the 10 percent price surcharge on pads and tampons should not have been imposed in the first place and describing it as a “source of frustration and angst” for women.Building on this momentum is the recently launched “No Gender Selective Tax Campaign” led by Bauer Media.More than 30 participating magazines, including The Australian Women’s Weekly, ELLE, Good Health and Money, have united behind the online petition on to push for ending “what is essentially a tax on being female.”Running across print, digital and social media channels, the campaign features black and white posters of both men and women with quotes evoking humour and reflection to encourage Australians to sign the petition, such as “Would you support a once-a-month bloke tax?” or “‘I love having my period and paying tax on it’ said no woman ever”.Speaking to Neos Kosmos, consumer finance expert and editor of Money magazine, Effie Zahos, explains why taking a stance against the tampon tax is primarily “a simple case of correcting a mistake that shouldn’t be there in the first place.”“The most important thing to know is that tampons [and other sanitary products] were never taxed under the Wholesale Sales Tax regime that existed prior to the GST, they were under a category called ‘human health & hygiene products’.”Interestingly, when GST replaced the previous tax system, a different classification was introduced for menstrual products listing them as ‘non-essential, luxury items’.But really, why?“I think Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek answered the question nicely when she said it’s just a dumb decision […] and suggested that when the GST [legislation] was written back in 1999 it was probably drafted by male public servants reporting to a very male-dominated cabinet,” says Ms Zahos.She adds that while the campaign is not the first initiative advocating for scrapping the tampon tax, it can certainly help spread the word and motivate the public to demand legislative change.From the ‘No Gender Selective Tax Campaign’.From the ‘No Gender Selective Tax Campaign’.Critics have called for abolishing the “unfair and discriminatory” tax, given that for one part menstruation is a natural bodily function and dealing with it in a hygienic way should not be considered a ‘luxury’ and that it imposes a surcharge only on girls and women.Adding to the controversy of the topic is that continence pads and items like lubricants, condoms or even Viagra are exempt from GST.Opposing arguments have been expressed from political figures in the past, such as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling the tampon tax removal a “politically correct exception” or One Nation leader Pauline Hanson saying that it would not save women much money anyway.Indeed, for some the amount is seen as not really significant, considering the estimated expenditure on sanitary products for the average woman amounts to $10 a month, $1200 over a decade and…$5,600 during their menstruating life.But it is hard to argue it is miniscule especially for low income earners, women who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged, with a 2017 survey by the University of Queensland finding that some young girls in remote indigenous communities miss out school during their menstruation for not being able to afford feminine hygiene products.“If you’ve only got $50 a week for spending, $5-10 of those on your sanitary products is a huge proportion,” Ms Zahos points out and refers to initiatives supporting women to take care of their menstrual health, such as Share the Dignity, a charity that has collected more than 700,000 packets of donated pads and tampons for women in need.Removing the GST tax on sanitary products would cost the government approximately $30 million a year, a revenue loss that the finance expert explains is quite small compared to the $62 billion received each year.Besides, GST revenues are split between the states and territories.While most states and territories have as of lately expressed support for the move, their determination to put it in practice remains to be formally expressed in the upcoming Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting later in the year, where treasurers from around the country will discuss the proposal.Recently, Federal Labor promised to remove the tampon tax if elected and substitute the money lost by taxing some forms of alternative therapies, like herbalism and aromatherapy, while last June the Senate passed a Greens’ motion to scrap the tax.But Ms Zahos stresses we should refrain from turning the issue into a political trophy.“It’s not about winning votes, it’s just about getting the job done.“I’m going back to the notion that it’s clearly about fixing something that shouldn’t have been there in the first place[…] we just want the sanitary products listed as non-essential luxury items to be reclassified as essential items.”To support the ‘No Gender Selective Tax Campaign’ visit bloodyannoying.comTo learn more about ways to support women in need visit

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