GST, India’s newly introduced tax regime is going to have an impact on all people. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been implemented in India on 1st July 2017 with the principle “one nation, one tax, one market”. GST has replaced all the other tax including VAT and current excise tax, creating a great impression as “good & simple tax”.
Since India is a country that speaks a lot about women empowerment and gender equality, it is very crucial to analyze every key government policies through the gender perspective.
Unfortunately, by default, there are no women members in the GST council and as a result, it is imperative to know how GST affect women. Every person and industry are affected by this tax scheme, and here is how it gives an impact on women.
Garments and Jewelry
Clothes and jewelry are one among the unavoidable things for many women. Women’s love for new clothes and jewelry is never going to end. But the new tax scheme is a bad news for those fashionistas, who wake up, eat and sleep in style.
GST claims that 5% tax will be levied on garments below INR 1000 and 12% for those above INR 1000. Based on the garment fabric, there is fluctuations in the tax rate such as synthetic fibers are taxed at a rate of 18% while natural fibers will be placed at 5% tax.
Before GST, the jewelry consumers are imposed with 2% tax and they now have to pay 6%. Foot wears are taxed at 5% to 18% for those under and above INR 500 respectively.
But this is not a problem for those stylish divas, who never check the price tag when it comes to fashion.
Cosmetic & Beauty Products
There is no doubt that women depend more on beauty and skin care products and services, rather than men. From soap, shampoo, body lotions, makeup cosmetics etc. the list gets longer depending on each woman.
According to GST, these beauty and skin care products are levied with 18 – 28% tax. Not only the products, the beauty services at salons are also affected by this tax regime.
In addition to the increase in tax rate of beauty related products, the government has set a tax rate of 18% for grooming and beauty related services. On the other side, goods like Sindoor, bindi, Kajal, Bangles etc. are come under no a tax slot.
Household Items & Meals
In most families, women are the one who suffers the stress of balancing the regular expense and income. Therefore, it is a great relief to know that government has excluded fruits, veggies, rice, wheat, salt, pulses and food grains out of GST.
In addition to that, the implementation of GST has reduced the price of chicken, good news for non-vegetarians! However, on the other side, meals from many restaurants have become expensive due to GST.
According to this new tax scheme food served at restaurants, attract 2 tax rates (12 % and 18%) depending upon whether it is an AC or Non AC restaurants or whether it is licensed to serve alcohol.
Also, GST claims to impose 28% tax on 5-star hotels and 12% tax on pre-packed foods, so now you have to choose wisely.
In most families, men handle this area and there for no direct worries for women. But when it comes to independent women this is a big problem, since GST has put the highest tax rate of 28% for domestic appliances.
The appliances that are essential for a middle-class household such as refrigerator, washing machine, mixers, food processors, grinders and gadgets are now taxed under the highest category. In fact, these are technologies that can be a major help for those working women by easing her labor and allowing her to work on her career and become financially independent.
As mentioned earlier, the items like bindhi, sindoor, bangles, altha etc. that associated with a married Hindu woman is now tax-free, which clearly states that our government still has those deep-rooted societal stereotypes that always considered women as the traditional roles of wife and mother.
After the launch of GST, one of the most discussed topics is the association of sanitary napkins, tampons, towels etc. into the higher tax category of 12% while the condoms and other vanity box items like sindoor, bindhi etc are kept tax free.
Most underprivileged women don’t even use the sanitary napkins because of its cost, instead, they use old clothes even though they know that they are risking their health.
For the government, these basic hygiene products for women are luxury items, but they treat condoms as an essential item for the living and therefor excluded it from GST. There were so many campaigns and protests against this since sex is a choice and periods is not, but still, the government chooses to tax us for being women.
This categorization of goods and services into various tax slots will be an ongoing process and therefore we could expect a better decision in future. We could hope that in future there will be corrective measure in the policy, which will help India to build a generation of empowered and independent women.
Your turn now, what is impact of GST on you? Let us know using the comments section below.