What is the price of vanity?

QUEZON City, Philippines (January 19) – The proposed vanity tax made a huge splash after news organizations reported it. The proposed measure aims to levy an excise tax on all the beauty products and beauty services in our country. And once its existence was revealed, criticisms and objections from various women’s groups and organizations greeted the proposed vanity tax. And they make one compelling argument – it is unfair to women.

Source: Makeup Vidalondon
Source: Makeup Vidalondon

Here’s a little backgrounder on how the proposed vanity tax came to be.

The Department of Finance submitted their proposed tax reforms to the Congress. Those tax reforms are intended to help fund the future plans of the government under President Rodrigo Duterte. One of the major points in the proposed tax reform is to increase the value added tax on the fuel products like gasoline, since we only have 9 percent tax on the oil products compared to the other countries where VAT on the same products reached 20 percent.

But then, Ako Bicol Partylist Representative Rodel Batocabe came up with the idea of taxing  beauty products and services in lieu of the increased VAT on petroleum products.  Batocabe said that the vanity tax will be more than sufficient to raise revenues for the government so that there will no longer be a need to increase the VAT on petroleum products.

Batocabe stated in his bill that “[A]ny increase of price for beauty and cosmetic products and services shall only be shouldered by those who choose to and can afford it,” and “[R]aising the 20-percent excise tax on perfume and toilet waters to 30 percent would be preferable than any rise on our fuel prices.”

The major objection to the vanity tax is that it is biased against woman.

Since women are the most common users and consumers of beauty products and services, it was feared that a vanity tax will cause gender inequality as it will force women to pay an excise tax every time they purchase cosmetics and the like while men are not subjected to the same.

Also, it will be – pardon the term – unfair for those people who are practically required to use cosmetics in their jobs like models, TV personalities, flight stewardesses and other jobs in the service industry – jobs that entail interaction with other people. To address the issue, the proposed law has a provision exempting from tax beauty products that are necessary or considered as a job requirement.

Source: newsnish
Source: newsnish

Of course, the proposed vanity tax already causes much fear and anxiety for those who are now faced with the possibility of never being able to afford their usual beauty regimen. Sure the vanity tax will raise revenue for the government but at what cause?

On the other hand, supporters of the vanity tax say that such tax measure will allow those who regularly make use of beauty products and services to re-evaluate their priorities and to spend their hard-earned income on more useful things. Also, supporters of the tax say that it will allow women to become more confident of themselves and to promote natural beauty.

Be that as it may, a tax that is imposed technically on one gender alone and leaves the other free from a similar burden is truly and unjustly discriminating.

Bowing from the intense criticism garnered by his proposal Representative Batocabe withdrew his proposed vanity tax.





(written by Francis Albuen, edited by Jay Paul Carlos, additional research by Vince Alvin Villarin)