Should Feminine Hygiene And Sanitation Products Be Non-Taxable Under GST?

The Goods and Services Tax was launched recently in India. Various product costs were revised due to a change in the rates of applicable taxes. You can check out the taxation rate of various goods and services charged with GST using a gst calculator.

Within the GST’s logic, essential commodities are charged with a lower tax rate or even exempted from taxes in some cases. On the other hand, luxury products are charged with a rate of 28%.

When GST was launched in India, many products related to feminine hygiene like pads, tampons, etc. were charged with 12% GST. These products already have a low reach, and putting a tax on something this needful would further reduce its availability to the masses.

Why Should Feminine Hygiene And Sanitation Products Be Tax-Free?

The first big argument is that sanitary napkins, pads, tampons, etc. are essential products for all women across the globe. However, in India, sanitation for women is considered an outlier in a sea of commodities and still faces a lot of distribution issues. This could have dire consequences for the health and safety of Indian women.

Under the Indian GST regime, contraceptive pills are exempted from tax as the government believes that a woman should have the right to get these medicines at a lower cost. A similar approach should be followed when it comes to women’s hygiene and sanitary products.

The sanitary products’ manufacturers know how to register for gst, but they should also be getting the benefits that have come out of it. A lot of products are exempted from GST, and the same treatment should be given to these products.

The Benefits Of Tax-Free Sanitation For Women

  • Sanitation and feminine hygiene products are essential for women. Taxation on sanitary commodities normalises the idea that pads and tampons are an unaffordable luxury rather than a necessity for good health. In a country like India, where hygiene awareness is still lacking in many rural areas, taxation perpetuates the false notion that pads are not necessary.
  • Feminine hygiene products should be made tax-free to improve the logistics and supply chain. Products exempted from tax can move around the states much easily as compared to the taxable goods. This would increase the reach of the products to different parts of the country.
  • Making sanitation products affordable should be the goal of the government. According to the National Family Survey, more than 40% of women in India still do not have any access to sanitary napkins during their periods. Removal of taxes would reduce the prices, and this would be made affordable for a large number of people.
  • Various health issues arise when women opt for alternatives like cotton cloth, raw cotton, and even sand! In India, the rural population is still unaware of the options available to them for their menstruation. Lowering the prices will promote the benefits of the product and protect women throughout the country from fatal diseases due to poor sexual wellness and health.

The Current Situation

GST was formulated with a vision to reduce taxes for the essential products and services and charge a premium for luxury products. But the new taxation system was already heading in the wrong direction when most women’s hygiene and sanitation products were taxed at the rate of 12%.

People protested against the same due to obvious reasons. Soon, the Government of India removed the 12% tax from sanitary napkins, bringing down their cost to a great extent. Although the maximum retail price still depends on the manufacturer, abolishing taxes has brought down the prices for the buyers.

The Road Ahead

Under GST, various feminine hygiene products were taxed at 12%, much to everyone’s dismay. The government listened to the masses and abolished taxes on sanitary pads. However, the exemption has not been given to tampons and menstrual cups, even though they are safer from a hygiene perspective.

As they belong to a niche market, tampons and menstrual cups aren’t manufactured on a large scale. The low demand is driven by high prices and a lack of awareness. In such a situation, putting taxes on these products will further curb their usage.

The taxation rates for feminine hygiene products should be brought down considerably. These products are not luxuries but mere necessities. The government can help the women of the country by giving these products a tax exemption.