As Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So, if you’re like me, you may have always accepted taxes as a necessary part of life, something outside of your control. (Unless you happen to be Robin Hood, in which case, awesome!) But, recently, a few things have drawn my attention to tax and its relationship to menstrual products.
Firstly, a new group called ‘No Tax on Tampons’ has set up an online petition, asking the federal government to remove the GST charged on menstruation products. This is wonderful! We shouldn’t have to pay tax on menstrual products. Incontinence pads (a similar device to a menstrual pad) aren’t taxed, so the tax on menstrual products is easily identified as a sexist, gender-based ruling.
Perhaps the difference lies in the classification, with incontinence pads being classified as medical items in Canada, whilst menstrual products currently are not. This brings me to the second aspect of this issue. In the US, the FDA has now classified menstrual products (including cloth pads) as medical items. Presumably, if menstrual products become classified as medical items in Canada, it would be easier to have them become tax-exempt. However, this concerns me because we’re still on the slow journey of convincing society that childbirth and menstruation are natural processes and shouldn’t be treated as illnesses. Classifying menstrual products as medical devices would surely be a step in the wrong direction.
My hope (if you ARE Robin Hood, please step forward now because I don’t have any other great ideas on how to make this happen) is that tax classifications can be overhauled and based around more sensible and fathomable guidelines, as they’re currently confusing and appear to be randomly decided in some areas. One key change would be that basic personal care products should become tax exempt, as is the case with basic groceries. Currently, the following items are among those which are taxed, despite the fact that they are completely necessary for even a basic quality of life:
- Toilet paper
- Breast pads and pumps
- And, of course, menstrual products
If you’d like further evidence of the complexity and strangeness of the current tax classification system, you can check out an article from CBC here, in which we learn that Twinkies and Poptarts (not basic staples, not healthy, so why???) are tax exempt. It even has a fun little quiz at the bottom of the page, to test your knowledge on tax exempt foods. (I did not score well, by the way.) I hope you enjoy the quiz and then, perhaps, have a chance to enjoy having your own little rant about taxes. I know I have.