Fighting The Period Tax!

axe-the-period-tax-blogWomen have had enough. Enough of the government taxing their periods. Several countries around the world tax tampons and other sanitary products, which are essentials that half of the world must use once a month for decades of their lives. Now, women in these countries are standing up and letting their voices be heard and these voices are chanting, “Stop taxing my period.”

Australia: Fighting the Good Fight

In recent weeks, media coverage of “tampon tax” protests has focused on Australia. In Australia, tampons and other sanitary products are subject to a 10% Goods and Services tax (GST), because these products are viewed as “luxury items” rather than “health items.”

Shockingly, things like condoms and lube are classified as “health items” and are not subject to the tax. So, what’s the government’s rationale? Condoms and lube prevent disease, while sanitary products do not. This argument doesn’t make sense and women, and their supporters, are fighting to right this wrong.

Opponents of the tax have made their opinions known in many ways: picketing, petitioning, social media campaigning, and dressing up as giant tampons to dance on the lawn of Parliament. What song did they dance to, you ask? Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” of course.

This isn’t the first time the “tampon tax” has been protested in Australia, but the protests this time are receiving more attention than ever before. It is not clear whether the efforts of the protestors will be successful in achieving their goal of abolishing the tax. However, maybe we’ll know in July, as Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that he may review the tax with the State Treasurers at that time. However, Hockey may have only said that after having a giant tampon pointed at him on TV. As we know, the only thing scarier than a loaded gun is a giant tampon.

Canada: A Success Story

While Australia is still fighting to remove the “tampon tax,” Canada is celebrating a victory. It was announced last week that, starting in July 2015, Canada will no longer apply their 5% GST to sanitary products.

This change comes after 20 years of controversy and protest. The most recent petition to repeal the “period tax” boasts almost 75,000 signatures. The petition points out that sanitary products are not luxury items and, if things like cake decorations aren’t taxed, then tampons shouldn’t be either.

Many opponents of the tax in other countries, like Australia, hope that Canada’s actions will help the cause in their countries.

Other Countries and the “Tampon Tax”: Winners and Losers

When it joined the European Union (EU) in 1973, the UK began to apply a 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) to all sanitary products. In 2000, the tax was reduced to 5%, as a way to make feminine necessities more affordable.

While citizens of the UK continue to protest this tax, even in its reduced form, it doesn’t seem like the tax will be going anywhere in the near future. Lawmakers claim that it would be difficult to remove the tax, since 5% is the lowest tax rate permitted under EU law. However, this doesn’t seem to be silencing opponents of the tax in the UK.

In contrast, Ireland has a 0% VAT placed all sanitary products. Ireland was either smart enough or lucky enough to set this rate before the EU introduced legislation that set a minim rate for VAT. Whether it was foresight or just the luck of the Irish, women still come out ahead in this deal.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the US. Where do we stand on the “tampon tax” issue? Well, it’s more difficult to talk about this matter when looking at the US as a whole, because it varies by state.

For example, some of the states that apply sales tax to tampons and other sanitary products include: California, Wisconsin, and New York. Within the past few weeks though, there has been more talk of removing the “tampon tax” in New York.

As for states that don’t apply sales tax to feminine hygiene products, the list includes states like: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These states, and their female residents, are all winners in the “period tax” war. While this list is a great a start, we need to add more states, and countries for that matter, to this list of winners.

Click here to sign the Period View petition #AxeThePeriodTax on

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About This Blogger

Shannon Flynn

Shannon Flynn is an attorney and freelance writer in Columbus, Ohio. She received both her bachelor's degree in Psychology and law degree from The Ohio State University. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, doing Pilates, playing with her two cats, and spending time with her fiancé.