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December 14, 2018

Australia removes ‘Tampon Tax’ – feminine hygiene products no longer ‘non-essential’

October 4, 2018
Petitions circulated the internet calling for an end to the tax on feminine hygiene products, including one that received over 100,000 signatures. (gbrundin / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Australia is rolling back its controversial “tampon tax.”

Officials announced the deal Wednesday, ending a nearly two-decade battle over the 10% tax placed on tampons, pads and more than a dozen other products used in connection with menstruation.




“We won!! After 18 years campaigning finally this bloody tampon tax is going to be axed!” Greens Sen. Janet Rice said in a series of celebratory tweets.

“We put it on the treasurers’ meeting agenda, we got the agreement & now, within 3 months, the (tampon tax) will be removed,” Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, said in his own Twitter post.

A public petition calling for an end to the tax garnered more than 104,000 signatures.

It pointed out that condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches already are tax-free in Australia because they’re classified as important health aids.

The federal sales tax was first introduced by conservative leaders in 2000 and added the extra levy to all items not considered “essential” in some way.

At the time, Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge rejected the notion tampons are a biological necessity for women and even compared them to shaving cream in an interview with ABC Australia.

“As a bloke, I’d like shaving cream exempt, but I’m not expecting it to be,” he said. “Condoms prevent illness. I wasn’t aware that menstruation was an illness.”

The “tampon tax” is hardly exclusive to Australia. More than 30 states in the U.S. still tax feminine hygiene products.

It was only in 2016 that New York passed legislation exempting the products.

“Repealing this regressive and unfair tax on women is a matter of social and economic justice,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement at the time. “I look forward to signing it into law.”

Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and the District of Columbia also repealed taxation on feminine hygiene products in recent years.

Despite arguments the levies should remain for fiscal reasons, Pace University Law Professor Bridget J. Crawford said no state is in jeopardy of “collapse” over the loss of tampon taxation.

“There is no state that depends on women’s menstruation to keep going,” Crawford said.

She echoed estimates that a woman could easily pay more than $700 on tampon taxes alone over her lifetime.




Australia’s decision to remove the tax follows just months after India ruled to remove its “tampon tax” in July.

Crawford said Australia’s move to abolish the tax is a “small change” that could make a “huge practical and symbolic difference.”




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