Germany Lowers its #TamponTax but Still Discriminates

Following the model of online campaigns against the tampon tax in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and the U.S., in March 2018, two German women launched a petition at urging “Die Periode ist kein Luxus – senken Sie die Tamponsteuer!” (Roughly: “Periods are not a luxury – lower the tampon tax!”). At the time, Germany’s VAT on  menstrual products was 19%.

Beginning in January 2020, most menstrual products in Germany are now taxed at a rate of 7% (news story here). Over at Vulvani, Britta Wiebe tracks the trajectory of the German campaign and the legislative response, but points out that pantyliners are still subject to the higher rate:

The new taxation is almost completely successful. Unfortunately, a small questions remains. Because the reduced tax rate applies to all period products except panty liners. This means that panty liners are still taxed at 19 percent. You might ask yourself why? So do we! It is said that panty liners are not used exclusively for menstruation, but rather for daily use. Unfortunately, the logic of politicians makes no sense at all. Because the reduced tax rate is supposed to apply to products of daily use. Well, at least the menstrual world remains exciting.

Read Wiebe’s full analysis here.

In the U.S. context, Professor Emily Gold Waldman (Pace) and I have argued (here) that the tampon tax is unconstitutional. Professor Carla Spivack (OKCU) and I have argued (here) that the tampon tax also violates multiple human rights norms and is ripe for challenge, especially in the European Court of Human Rights, where there is some helpful precedent.

The particularities of the EU tax laws restrain countries’ ability to move menstrual products into the zero rate VAT category. But how about a new pan-European online petition? Instead of “Periods are not a luxury – lower the tampon tax!” let’s move to “Periods are not a luxury – the EU must eliminate the tampon tax!”Die Periode ist kein Luxus – Die Europäische Union muss die Tamponsteur beseitigen! (Thanks, Google Translate!)

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