Imposing vanity tax ‘discriminatory’ vs women – Quimbo

Mara Cepeda
Imposing vanity tax ‘discriminatory’ vs women – Quimbo
House Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo says excise tax is usually imposed on luxury items or those that pose health risks, neither of which apply on beauty products and services

MANILA, Philippines – Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo disagreed with another lawmaker’s proposal for the government to impose excise tax on beauty products and services, saying do so would be discrimination against women. 

In a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, January 11, Quimbo explained that excise taxes are usually imposed on luxury items, like expensive cars and jewellery, and those that pose health risks to the public, like tobacco and alcohol. 

“I think [beauty products and services are] far too small a segment to be looking at. Secondly, I don’t think it’s a luxury item at this time because it has become a necessity. Minimum wage workers today who work in Shoemart or Robinsons or go elsewhere do buy cosmetics. They’re not as expensive, but they do wear it,” said the Marikina 2nd District representative. 

“And I think it’s going to be a segmentized or discriminatory tax because the only people who will be affected will only be one side. I know some men wear makeup but that’s completely almost irrelevant. I think it can be struck down as also sex-linked,” added Quimbo, who was also ex-chairperson of the House committee on ways and means.

AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe had urged the Department of Finance (DOF) to reconsider increasing the excise tax on fuel and instead tax the Philippine beauty industry, which Batocabe said has an estimated worth of P200 billion. (READ: DOF submits first package of tax reforms to Congress)

He wants the DOF to propose a tax system to be imposed on makeup, whitening products, hair care applications, and the even cosmetic surgeries. But Batocabe wants the DOF to exclude reconstructive surgeries done to address deformities and injuries. 

Batocabe explained that fuel is used by Filipinos across all social classes, so an increase in fuel excise tax would affect most of the population. 

“In comparison, any increase of price for beauty and cosmetic products and services shall only be shouldered by those who choose to and can afford it,” said Batocabe. 

“While the poor can avoid the use of beauty products, they however, cannot avoid using public transportation or purchasing basic commodities. So why not impose the additional tax on an equally stable industry?” he added. 

Batocabe’s proposal has since sparked outrage online, with netizens using the hashtag #DontTaxMyBeauty to explain why imposing taxes on vanity products and services is discriminatory against women. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.