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• Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Germany reduced its tax rate from 19% to 7% on female sanitary products.
• The “Tampon Book” was a 2019 protest against Germany’s previously higher tax on female sanitary products.
A Facebook post about a German tax on feminine hygiene products is based on outdated information.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Prior to 2020, the details of the post were accurate — but that’s no longer the case. As of Jan. 1, 2020, Germany reduced its tax rate from 19% to 7% on female sanitary products. And the "Tampon Book" pictured in the post was one element used in a 2019 protest against Germany’s previously higher tax, according to reporting by The Guardian.
Germany's tax laws charge 19% for luxury items and 7% for food products and everyday necessities, according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Before the 2020 change, female sanitary products were categorized as luxury items.
"Books are taxed at 7% in Germany, and so the founders of the Female Company, which sells organic sanitary products, decided to publish one and include tampons inside it," The Guardian reported in 2019. "Released earlier this spring, the first print-run sold out in a day and the second in a week."
Supporters of changing the law said sanitary goods in such a manner unfairly burdened women, particularly poor women. As the Washington Post noted, some studies have shown that lack of access to menstrual pads or tampons is one reason girls around the world miss out on school.
In early 2019, Germans submitted a petition to parliament with the required number of signatures to bring the topic up for debate in a public hearing, according to the Library of Congress. Later that year, parliament voted to reduce the tax on female hygiene products.
The claim that Germany imposes a 19% tax on feminine hygiene products but a 7% tax on books, so one company is packaging tampons as books, contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.. We rate it Mostly False.
Facebook post, March 29, 2022
The Guardian, "No luxury: book containing tampons is runaway hit," June 21, 2019
Twitter post, March 24, 2022
U.S. Library of Congress, "Germany: Tax Rate for Female Sanitary Products Reduced," accessed March 31, 2022
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