Certain items are listed as “luxury goods” in some countries and therefore come with a much higher tax than general products. It might not be surprising for cigarettes and wine to have made it on the list, but you wouldn’t expect such a list to include tampons.
Within the European Union, Germany ranked at number 11 for the highest tax rates on female hygiene items. However, this will soon be a factor of the past as yesterday’s vote in the German parliament will see a decrease in the tax on women’s sanitation items such as pads and tampons. As of the 1st of January next year, tax on feminine hygiene products will drop from 19 percent to just 7 percent – the same as everyday essentials.
Member of parliament Lisa Paus posted on Twitter that this tax reduction will be “an important step toward a tax system that does not discriminate against women.”
Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, said, “Many women campaigned for this and now we’re making it happen.”
Equal rights campaigner Nanna-Josephine Roloff – one of the organizers of the online petition to drop tampon taxes, which gathered nearly 200,000 signatures – sees this move as a great triumph. Scholz said to Roloff that the petition “paved the way forward to change the law”.
Cost of menstrual related items
A 2018 report from City Hall in London, suggested that the average lifetime cost of feminine hygiene products in the city is around nearly £2,300 (almost $3,000), not including how much is spent on items for pain alleviation as well as new underwear.
“It is the women who bear these costs, and periods are no luxury for women,” says Roloff. “Products like salmon, caviar, truffles, hotel nights, or taxi rides are taxed lower than female hygiene products,” she added. “But how should women avoid their period?”
In the European Union, Hungary took the top spot for highest tax rates for women’s hygiene items. Hungarian women pay a shocking 27 percent tax for such products, while women in Croatia, Denmark, and Sweden aren’t far behind with a tax rate of 25 percent. Ireland is the sole country in the European Union that poses no tax whatsoever on female sanitary products. The United States, India, Kenya, and Canada are among the few countries worldwide that also have no tax on these types of items.