New York End The Tampon Tax And Here's Why Everywhere Else Should Too
New York pass legislation to end the so-called tampon tax on female hygiene products, but will other countries follow their lead?
As if periods weren't enough of a bloody nightmare (pun intended, obv), there's also a little thing called tampon tax that us ladies in a lot of countries have to contend with.
But now New York State is making a stand and in an awesome move for women living there, they've passed a law that will exempt women's sanitary products from tax, meaning that women who buy them will no longer have to pay that extra bit of money put on top of pads, tampons and panty liners, which makes them even more expensive than they would be anyway.
If you're wondering 'what's the big deal?', then perhaps the fact that it's going to save women in New York an estimated $10m a year - yes, TEN. MILLION. DOLLARS - might persuade you that it's no small thing.
The so-called tampon tax has become a big social issue over the last year or so and there has been a lot of conversation and campaigning to get it banned, particularly on this side of the Atlantic.
There are LOADS of reasons why this is something both women and men should care about, but here's a quick breakdown to explain the main points around why being taxed on this kind of products should be considered very problematic:
1. Periods aren't cheap
In your lifetime you'll probably have around 450 periods. With a regular box of 20 tampons currently costs around £3.20 in Boots for us ladies in the UK, this means than in your lifetime, you are going to spend at least £1500 on sanitary products.
This is no small amount as it is - just think how many Mars Bars you could buy with that - and for someone on the minimum wage, that's around 38 days work you are paying for just for the pleasure (note the sarcasm) of having a period, an amount of money men will never have to spend on a biological human process we can't control.
2. It is gender issue
This leads us onto the fact that it is mostly women who have periods. We can't control that we have these, it's a fact of nature, so why is the Government charging us extra for the displeasure of a bleeding uterus? The tax on sanitary products means you are paying 5% more than you would every time you buy a box, an amount of money that previously went straight into the pockets of the EU to spend on whatever they fancied. This is because they are classed as a 'non-essential' item, meaning that you can be taxed on them.
Now, this seems a little problematic. Women don't have much of a choice in buying sanitary products. We don't opt-in to having periods, it just happens to us and for most, without these items we would bleed all over everywhere and wouldn't be able to go about our daily life when we're on our period. This means we would miss out on pay at work if we didn't give in and buy tampons and pads.
Not only does this amount to us being taxed for having a natural bodily function, but at its base it also seems a very sexist law. Not only are women already generally paid less than men thanks to the good old gender pay gap, but this is a prime example of society combining period shame and misogyny to get cash out of a mainly female portion of society.
3. Ok, but surely there's a good reason female hygiene products are classed 'non-essential'?
In a word: no. No there is not.
Tampons, sanitary towels and pads - all items that stop about 50% of the population from bleeding all over everywhere once a month - are classed as non-essential and thus taxable items by the EU. But you know what are currently all items that are exempt from being taxed in the EU? Alcoholic jellies, edible sugar flowers, exotice meat including kangaroo and Jaffa Cakes.
Don't know about you, but next time you can't afford a tampon, we'll probably just try a Jaffa Cake in our knickers instead, seeing as they are so essential and all.
4. Wait. Didn't David Cameron reform tampon tax in the UK or something?
Back in March there was a LOT of excitement when EU leaders announced a deal that would allow the UK to scrap tampon tax.
However, this was a bit of distraction from the real issue as instead of dumping the tax, David Cameron and his Government revealed they would use the change in tax law to use the money raised from tampon tax to be distributed among women's charities.
While charity is great and we're all about helping women, this is slightly missing the point. This tax basically only applies to women, so this logic means that now women are essentially being forcibly taxed to fund charities in women's interests. It's still ONLY WOMEN whose money is being donated to these charities, which seems a little unfair.
It also seems pretty sexist bearing in mind what some of the chosen charities do. For example, these charities include some created specifically to assist women being domestically abused, another huge and important social issue, but at the same time something which is a systemic problem rooted largely (although of course not only) in men being violent towards women. Why are we women paying to fund these things and not men? And what even have tampons got to do with violence against women in the first place? It just doesn't make much sense.
SO, in conclusion, no matter whether you identify as a woman, a man or any other which way, if you think it's unfair for women to be taxed for a basic healthcare item, something which 50% of the population will never have to be taxed on because there's no equalising bodily process they have to deal with (we mean the fact you don't have periods, guys), then chances are you might want to speak out against tampon tax.
Also FOUR FOR NEW YORK, YOU GO NEW YORK.
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