Australia not to remove controversial ‘tampon tax’ on female sanitary products

By @diplomatist10 on
Coles supermarket Australia
A shopper stands in front of a Coles supermarket sign in a suburban shopping centre in Sydney June 25, 2007. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

Despite strong opposition from the public and law makers, Australian states and territories have refused to remove the unpopular ‘tampon tax’ on female sanitary products.  Sanitary products attract 10 percent goods and services tax as they are treated as non-essentials.  

This is in sharp contrast to the tax concession for products such as condoms and sunscreen. The campaign against the tax had become shrill. A recent mass petition attracted 90,000 signatures, reports BBC.

University student Subeta Vimalarajah created the petition, “stop taxing my period,” and Mia Lethbridge made a music video called "Drop it 'cause it's rot" to protest the “unfair tax.”  Parodying Snoop Dogg's “Drop it like it's hot,” the video features tampon stencils and Christine Forster, the sister of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, reports Mashable.

No review

Belying high expectations, the meeting of treasurers on Aug 21 refused to remove the tax on sanitary products. If the tax has to be scrapped, all state and territory governments have to agree for the changes in the GST.

Expectations soared after Treasurer Joe Hockey’s promise to consult state treasurers and his own statement that tampons and sanitary pads were essential items.  But he added that removing the tax would create an estimated tax shortfall of at least $AU30 million annually.

At the forefront against the opposition to the tampon tax was Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters. Senator Waters tabled the 100,000-strong petition “Stop Taxing My Period” in the Senate to press for exempting GST from sanitary products, reports SMH.

" It's discriminatory to exempt condoms or sunscreen from GST but charge women GST for essential items,” Waters said.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt had also said he, along with Labor treasurers of Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, would press for the removal of GST on sanitary products. In a joint statement, Pitt and his colleagues said Australian women spent close to AU$300 million a year on sanitary products and removal of GST from sanitary products is all about fairness.

Online purchase

Meanwhile, the treasurers’ meeting agreed to expand GST on all online purchases of goods and services sold into Australia from 1 July, 2017. At present, the tax binds foreign products and services bought online with a value over AU$1,000, adds BBC.

The Treasurer justified the expanded tax cover by noting that local retailers are suffering a competitive disadvantage by paying more tax than foreign online competitors.

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