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Is The Tax On Tampons Sexist?

"Unwanted monthly subscription to Lucifer's waterfall shouldn't be taxed."

Women. There are some things they just can't stop doing. Buying shoes, crying in movies, having pillow fights, and menstruating every month.

Digital Vision / Getty Images

And every time an Australian woman gets her period, she pops down to the shop to get tampons, where she is charged an extra 10% tax by the government.

Warner Bros

Why? Because under the GST classifications, tampons and pads are not classified as "health goods".


Even though products like condoms, lubricant, nicotine patches, and sunscreen are – and are therefore exempt from the tax.


Weirdly, incontinence pads are exempt from the GST but sanitary pads are not.


So student activist Subeta Vimalarajah has started a petition addressed to Joe Hockey to remove the tampon tax in the upcoming review of the GST.

Subeta Vilmalarajah / Community Run

"Since 2000, the Australian Government has taxed every menstruating Australian 10% every time we get our period. It is estimated that our periods earn the government a whopping $25 million each year," she writes on the petition page.

"People who get periods don't buy pads and tampons for pleasure, so why are we forced to fork out an extra 10% every 2, 3, 4 weeks? Taxing Australians for getting their period isn't just sexist, it's fundamentally unfair!"

Subeta says many Australians have no idea that there's a GST on sanitary products.

"I knew there was some controversy about it in 2013, and was chatting to a friend about it and I just assumed that it had been removed," she told BuzzFeed News. "With Joe Hockey's tax review coming up, this is the perfect opportunity to submit it to him directly."

The petition has now reached its goal of 20,000 signatures.

One of the supporters wrote, "Unwanted monthly subscription to Lucifer's waterfall shouldn't be taxed." Another said, "I bleed and I vote."

The issue has been surrounded by controversy ever since then-prime minister John Howard introduced the GST in 2000.

Nick Wilson / Getty Images

The tax committee classified a tampon as a "personal hygiene product rather than a product used to treat an illness or a disease or a disability".

Amid criticism from his own party and outrage from the opposition, John Howard was forced to defend the decision.

"I mean, of course if you look at tampons in isolation – just as you look at something else in isolation – you can mount an argument to take the tax off it," he told the ABC.

"I could mount an argument to take the tax off children's clothes. I could mount an argument to take the tax off old people's clothes, I could mount an argument for a whole lot of things.

But we've had that argument and if you start doing that, you will have no GST in the end, and the whole system will begin to unravel."

A spokesperson for health minister Sussan Ley said this was not an issue for the department, and referred BuzzFeed News to assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who did not respond to a request for an interview.

  1. Do you think the GST on pads and tampons should be removed?
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Do you think the GST on pads and tampons should be removed?
    vote votes
    Absolutely. Tampons and pads are a necessity. Period.
    vote votes
    No way, that'd undermine the whole tax system. The whole idea is bloody stupid.

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