After years of public protest, resulting in a proposal by the Australian government, the country’s states and territories have unanimously agreed to stop tax on sanitary pads and feminine hygiene products.
No date has been announced for the repeal of the tax, but according to the ABC, it will cost state governments $30 million a year. The Federal Government reportedly says this will be easily managed thanks to overperforming Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue.
Back in June, the country’s Senate passed a bill drafted by the progressive Greens party to remove the tax on sanitary products, previously considered by law to be “luxury” items. All that was left to do was convince the country’s state and territory governments to agree — and now they have, unanimously.
In Australia, GST is charged on these sanitary items that women, transgender, and gender-non-binary people can require on a monthly basis.
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 for many 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.
Tampon tax still reigns in the U.S., however, where menstrual products are excluded from tax-exempt product categories in most states.
According to The New York Times, while a handful of states have nixed the tax, there are 36 states that are yet to remove taxation for sanitary products. New York, Illinois, Florida, and Connecticut abolished the tax in the last two years.
India scrapped its 12 percent tax on sanitary products in June following intense campaigning by activists.
In the UK, tampons, sanitary pads and other menstrual products are also subject to 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 sanitary pad 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.
Perhaps Australia and India’s move to completely repeal the tax on these essential items could set a precedent worldwide. Fingers crossed.