This company has come up with an ingenious way to protest Germany’s tampon tax


'The Tampon Book' might only contain a small amount of words but it's sending a powerful message about how sanitary products are taxed in the country.

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A German tampon company is speaking out against the country’s tax on sanitary products, by releasing a ‘book’ that just happens to contain 15 tampons.

Tampons and other sanitary products sold in the European country are classified under ‘luxury items’ and slapped with a 19 per cent tax. 

Books, on the other hand, are taxed at just seven per cent. 

This discrepancy led The Female Company to create ‘The Tampon Book’, which, in addition to the tampons, contains 46 pages of stories and illustrations about menstruation.

The first release of the book - which retails at just over AUD$5 - sold out within 24 hours, with a second run selling out within the week. According to publishers, the book has sold over 10,000 copies to date.

The Female Company co-founder Ann-Sophie Claus and her team have been fighting Germany’s tampon tax for over a year. More than 175,000 people have signed on to a petition started by the team, calling on the government to remove the tax. 

“The German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, replied saying that he does not want to reduce the tax because he cannot ensure that companies will pass on the tax reduction to consumers anyway,” Claus said

Claus points to the book’s low price as proof that manufacturers will pass on cuts. Hundreds of copies have also been sent to members of the German parliament. 

“The tampon tax was decided in 1963. 499 men and only 36 women voted. It’s time that we question such decisions from a new perspective of modern, independent women,” Claus said.

The long fight against Australia’s tampon tax

Until very recently, Australia’s pads and tampons languished under a 10 per cent GST tax as they were classified as a ‘luxury item’.

In October 2018, then-PM Malcolm Turnbull announced that sanitary products would be exempt from GST tax, with the changes taking place from January 1 this year. 

Greens Senator Janet Rice said the move had come after 18 years of persistent campaigning. 

"People power has made it happen," she told reporters at the time. 

The politicians have finally realised how much support in the community there has been to end the unfair and sexist tax.

It’s estimated the measure will cost the government and states a combined $30 million in lost annual tax revenue. 

Following the removal of the tax in the beginning of the year, consumers saw a reduction in prices with outlets such as Priceline, Target and Kmart dropping prices by between eight and 16 per cent.

However, an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) review found that a number of smaller online retailers had not passed on the tax cut to consumers.

The ACCC said that while there is no legal requirement for business to pass on the cut, they are monitoring the situation and contacting retailers to clarify their price.

Australia followed the actions of several other countries that have removed tampon taxes including Kenya, Canada and 11 states in the US.

However, just days ago, the Tanzania government voted to reinstate the tax on sanitary products which was removed in 2018.

Finance Minister Philip Mpango said removing the tax was counter-productive, as retailers had not lowered their prices.

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