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  • Member states should eliminate tax-related gender biases 
  • A 0% VAT rate should apply to essential goods such as female hygienic products  

The Parliament adopted a non-legislative report on gender equality and taxation policies in the EU on Tuesday.

Taxation policies may have explicit or implicit gender bias, the report explains. An explicit bias means that a tax provision targets either men or women in a distinct way, while an implicit bias means that the provision applies equally to all, but is in reality discriminatory, as the policy interacts with behaviour and income patterns that impact genders differently.


Thus, in the report adopted in plenary today (313 votes in favour, 276 against and 88 abstentions), MEPs call on the EU Commission to issue specific guidelines and recommendations to member states in order to eliminate tax-related gender biases. EU countries should notably carry out regular impact assessments of fiscal policies from a gender equality perspective, MEPs say.


From joint to individual taxation


Noting the negative impact of joint taxation on encouraging women’s employment and economic independence, they stress that tax systems should no longer be based on the assumption that households pool and share their funds equally, and that individual taxation is crucial to achieving tax fairness for women.


They thus urge all member states to introduce progressively individual taxation systems, while ensuring that all financial and other benefits linked to parenthood in current joint taxation systems are fully preserved.


VAT exemptions for essential basic goods


MEPs also note that indirect taxation such as VAT exerts a gender bias, as women’s consumption patterns differ from those of men (for example, they purchase more goods and services with the aim of promoting health, education and nutrition). They thus call on member states to provide for VAT exemptions, reduced rates and zero-rates for products and services with positive social, health or environmental effects.


MEPs regret that female hygienic products and care products for children, elderly or people with disabilities are still not considered as basic products in all member states. They urge all EU countries to eliminate the so-called ‘‘care and tampon tax’’ by applying a 0% VAT rate to these essential goods.


Quotes


Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, PT), co-rapporteur for the economic and monetary affairs committee, said: ‘‘Gender equality can and should be promoted at all levels, including fiscal policy. This report is an important step towards a better adaptation of fiscal policies to the reality and the promotion of a fairer distribution of income, wealth, opportunities, productive assets and services. In other words, equality.’’


Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, ES), co-rapporteur for the women’s rights and gender equality committee, said: ‘‘The Parliament points out that tax policies can have a gender bias and discriminate directly or indirectly against women, creating disincentives to access to the labour market and reproducing undesirable gender stereotypes. We have included measures aimed at eliminating gender bias related to taxation in the EU in the personal income tax, as well as in the taxation of products and services related to the care of people and female hygiene products.’’