The Infamous Pink Tax

On the eve of International Women’s Day, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek brought the issue of removing the tax on women’s sanitary products to the front page again. She stated that to continue to have a tax on women’s sanitary products is a “dumb decision”.


In response, Tony Abbott said that not only would removing GST from tampons be a “Politically correct” decision but, “once you start having these exemptions, where does it end?”


Tony Abbott, I understand that you may feel like you know a lot about policy and economics considering you are a former Prime Minister and Minister for Women; but let me explain to you, as a woman, that the pink tax isn’t a ‘politically correct’ subject that women are bringing up — again.


The pink tax, also known as the women’s tax, is the term used to call attention to the fact that tampons and other feminine hygiene products are subject to both tax and an added value. Essentially, it’s the extra money that women have to pay for fundamentally the same product.


Condoms, lubricants, sunscreen, and nicotine patches are a few things on a long list of items that aren’t taxed because they are classed as important health goods. Items that aren’t considered to be important health goods, or are affected by the pink tax include tampons, sanitary pads, liners, pink razors, and Bic ‘For Her’ pens (they cost an extra 50 cents).


Both the Abbott and Turnbull governments have previously refused to consider removing the pink tax, claiming that the budget couldn’t afford the fiscal hit. Modelling by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) based on Treasury forecasts and data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that removing the 10% GST on tampons would cost states and territories $115 million over the next three years.


The Greens former deputy leader Larissa Waters has stated the PBO modelling is evidence that the government can afford to axe the sexist pink tax. The coalition’s new GST would easily cover the offset.The Treasury Laws Amendment (GST low-value goods), which will take effect on July 1 2018, adds a goods and services tax to any item bought online for less than $1000. It’s expected that this will accumulate $300 million in taxes over the next three financial years.


With states and territories earning $300 million over the next three financial years and the removal of the pink tax being $115 million, states and territories are left with a $185 million surplus. This more than makes up for the difference that will be lost by getting rid of the pink tax.


But you know what Tony Abbott? Maybe you’re right? Maybe we should focus on something other than the pink tax. Perhaps we should be concentrating on the Liberal government promising an increase in paid parental leave and then backflipping, or calling working mums “double-dippers”. We could even draw attention to the Labor government cutting payments to single parents in 2012.


Tony, did you know that on average, women are paid 23% less than their full-time male colleagues and will retire with just over half the amount of superannuation of these men, and almost 50% of women will report discrimination at work if they have a baby?


Tony, maybe our focal point should be that one in three females over the age of 15 have been the victim of physical violence. Or that among all women, 23% had experienced unwanted sexual contact, 20% had been followed, and 9% were forced to do something sexual.


Periods continue to be stigmatised as something gross and awful that all women, especially teenage girls should be embarrassed about, and cordial women shouldn’t talk about, so maybe it’s that Tony.


So, when tampons are taxed as if they are less critical for everyday health and wellbeing, it’s $5 too much. Concerns about this have repeatedly been raised for two decades with no progress at all.


Tony, sometimes it is all the little things.