If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that AAAF’s social media accounts have been busy with information about GST and wigs, petitions and demonstration rallies. It’s easy to think that taxation on wigs is a tiny issue, only affecting a tiny portion of people, and only having a very small impact on those people. If you don’t wear wigs, you might find yourself thinking why on earth does this matter, and why on earth would it matter to you.
For people with alopecia, the question of Goods and Services Tax on wigs can be, quite literally, a matter of life and death. AAAF has done considerable psychological research that has shown that people with AA are more likely than the general public to experience anxiety and depression. They can experience feelings of isolation, despair, and social phobia. In extreme cases, alopecia can lead to suicide. For many people experiencing these intense emotional and social impacts of the condition, being able to a wig can be lifesaving. Gaining control your rapidly changing appearance, and not feeling visible marked as different from the people around you can be the most vital parts of managing the condition through these tough times.
Human hair wigs cost up to six thousand dollars. For these alopecians to be paying an additional ten percent in goods and services tax for a condition that they can neither control nor prevent is abominable.
This lack of concession to the needs of people experiencing medical hair loss is, at best, an oversight, and at worst, it is knowingly profiteering from the misfortune of others. And an oversight, once known, is corrected.
For five years, the AAAF has been lobbying to get attention and action on this issue. We have been consistently knocked back by both Liberal and Labor governments. No one has acted for change.
But hey, if you don’t wear wigs, why should you care?
Let me tell you. I haven’t worn my wigs in the past two years. GST on wigs still affects me.
If you have never worn a wig, GST on wigs affects you.
If you’ve never even heard of Alopecia before today, GST on wigs still affects you.
GST on wigs matters to you because one day it might REALLY matter to you.
Maybe it doesn’t feel like this issue would really affect you now. But one day it might.
Sure, maybe you don’t have alopecia right now. Perhaps no one in your family does. Maybe none of your friends or neighbors or anyone you know at all has this condition. But will it always be that way?
Alopecia can affect anyone. Any age, any race, any gender. It is unpredictable and it is unpreventable. Sure, there is every chance that you’ll be one of the 98% of people who never has to deal with it.
But maybe one day you, or your partner, or your child, or sibling, or parent, will become one of the over 462,000 Australians who experience some form of alopecia. Will fair taxation on medical prosthesis matter to you then?
GST on wigs matters to you because simple legislative change should not be this hard.
AAAF has been campaigning for five years to have our voices heard by those who are supposed to represent our nation. Consistently knocked back by governments of both persuasions, I can’t help but be overwhelmingly disappointed at how unresponsive and nonreactive, antiquated and out dated the political system is in Australia.
Our whole campaign is one example among many of how difficult it is to see legislative change happen in this country (if you aren’t the heir to a media or mining empire, that is).
You’ve probably heard some of the furious debate about GST on sanitary items. But did you know that that GST debate has raging since the introduction of GST in 2000 (and has still not been dealt with!)?
That tax, which many Australians view as fundamentally sexist, brings in about 30 million AUD every year. Many politicians say that allowing these GST exemptions would hurt other programs, like healthcare, roads and education, by undercutting revenue, yet seem not to question potential revenue lost to existing exemptions on items like sunblock, nicotine patches, and prophylactics.
GST on wigs is estimated to cost Australians about 2.5 million AUD a year. That’s 0.00056% of total tax revenue in this country and about 0.0024% of total Goods and Services Taxation Revenue. Not a huge loss.
The fact is, this is a tiny issue. The costs associated with changing the situation are minimal. The procedures to allow GST exemptions already exist.
We shouldn’t have to be fighting tooth and nail to see some movement on this. It should not be this hard for average Australians to be involved in the political process of our country. It simply should not be this hard, and the fact that it is says something very negative about our system.
GST on wigs matters to you because fair taxation is everyone’s business.
Ultimately, your view on the role and extent of taxation in society is going to be a personal perspective, tied to your own individual political and moral beliefs.
Do you believe that individuals have a responsibility to care for the wider society around them, and that in turn that society has a responsibility to care for those individuals who need it?
Do you believe that the wealth an individual accumulates is the result of their individual labour, so they should have a right to complete control over how their own money?
Would your opinion change if you were hit by a bus tomorrow? Or if you suddenly came down with a debilitating illness? If you were no longer able to work, and lost your job? If your medical expenses skyrocketed? If all of this happened through no fault of your own, just a quirk of chance?
On the scale of a whole country, who pays for what matters. It matters to you because you’re the one paying for it.
It matters because in a democratic system you are the one who decides what you’re paying for. You decide with your vote, with your letters to your member of government, with your signature on petitions asking for change.
To me? It matters because an estimated 2.5 million dollars is collected in goods and services tax on wigs worn by people who use them to manage medical conditions. It matters because this money is turned around to contribute to paying over 12 billion AUD in fossil fuel subsidiaries. It matters to me because fair and reasonable exemptions from additional charges on the health care costs of Australian families has been knocked back three times with very little consideration, while tax concessions and discounts for the wealthiest among us at a cost of over 6.15 billion dollars over 2015-16 have been happily given lengthy debate.
GST on wigs matters whether your life has been touched by alopecia or not.
Will you sign up for fair taxation? Sign our petition today.