Regressive tax alert – feminist edition

4455683809_3230ca9bef_zOops! Menstruation just became a luxury in Greece (VAT on sanitary towels up to 23%).

As did birth control and safe sex (condoms also up to 23%).

But not shellfish (still at 13%) – so you can still feast on aphrodisiacs provided you don’t intend to consummate*.

These are some of the latest tax reforms that Greece will be implementing from Monday, an indicative list of which is translated at the bottom of this post.

It is disappointing that our brave new left wing government continues to plough the furrow of regressive tax gathering carved by its predecessors, trying to squeeze ever more out of Greece’s captive but diminishing tax base. In case you haven’t thought it through, VAT increases on basic goods mean that everyone has to pay more regardless of their income or spending ability, which means that those on lower incomes are disproportionately punished. The additional €157 per year spend on basic foodstuffs that the new rates equate to will be felt much more acutely by lower income households.

No doubt this outcome will be justified as part of the blackmail exerted by the creditors. I can’t help thinking that if they hadn’t backed themselves and the country into a corner they would have had a golden opportunity to put their social justice actions where their rhetoric is. This is does not bode well for thornier comprehensive reforms to tax and pensions that are also on the cards.

VAT (ΦΠΑ) up to 23% from 13%:

  • Fresh or frozen beef (but not pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish or shellfish)
  • Packaged foodstuffs (including pasta, rice, flour, coffee, cocoa, processed meat, marmalade, chocolate, ice cream, baking goods, spices, bread, prepared meals, sliced bread, rusks, soft drinks and juices, herbal teas, sugar, vinegar) – no staples there, then…
  • Pet food, insect repellants, condoms, sanitary towels, firewood, cars for the disabled (another great progressive move), funeral services (the logical conclusion)
  • Eating out and catering
  • Public transport and taxi fares
  • Repair and restoration of old properties

Please don’t ask me what VAT rate applies to tampons – this is largely academic as they seem to be as rare as hens’ teeth in the shops these days. And no, it’s not my “time of the month.”

*CORRECTION: Of course it’s more complicated. Since the time of posting, a more detailed list reveals that shellfish are also in the top VAT bracket, so unless frozen calamari gets you going, this pleasure is also for special occasions only…

Image: Vintage 1956 Kotex ad licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Regressive tax alert – feminist edition

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