Hair tax in Tanzania is now a thing. The country has announced a new 25% tax on wigs, weaves and extensions. And Tanzanian women are NOT happy about it.
What Exactly is Hair Tax?
Forget sin tax (alcohol and tobacco) for a second. Forget #tampontax (for just a moment, which also affects women disproportionately). Let’s look at hair tax. Tanzania’s Finance Minister has just put this on the map in a very real way. And people are understandably very touched.
Let’s be honest, a good weave is already expensive AF. So how heavy is this tax? Well, it’s 25% on imported hair and 10% on locally made wigs and weaves, according to the BBC.
This hair tax applies to everything from hair extensions and weaves to wigs (synthetic and human) and braids. Basically, the entire “dry hair” import market in Tanzania.
What Do The Supporters Say?
The Tanzanian government’s decision to tax wigs and hair extensions – is a controversial one. Many politicians (across genders) applauded the Finance Minister’s announcement in parliament. So there is some serious support for this new hair tax. But why?
Supporters say that the tax will help women “keep their hair natural”. The BBC reports that Tanzanians tend to uphold more traditional values. But this natural hair agenda raises questions around policing women’s hair. Why make it (even more) expensive to go hair shopping?
Wigs, weaves and extensions have become increasingly popular. The “dry hair” import market is worth billions in Africa. So this announcement has been met with some serious backlash too, from women and business owners in particular.
The Public Outrage That Followed
Of course, there’s been public outrage. Hair politics is a sensitive topic and the hair industry is huge rn. Tanzanian women say they are being punished for wanting to look good. Hairdressers are saying that the new tax will be devastating for businesses, eNCA reports.
A salon-owner in Dar es Salaam is even worried it might affect the divorce rate. Aristote Mwamtobe says the tax “is too expensive for our sisters … They might cut their hair, which could lead to divorces as the men are used to seeing their wives with long hair. Women look so good with wigs.”
That very male-gazey comment aside, it could have real implications on local businesses. A Tanzanian wig importer Annasatasia Sigera condemned the wig tax: “People love artificial hair. Why of all the things that could be taxed did they opt for wigs?”
This is a great question. While it was introduced to build more revenue, a lot of the support (for this tax) came from people trying to impose traditional hairstyles on women.
Related: The Lowdown On Maintaining Your Wigs
FYI, They Also Reintroduced #TamponTax
The Finance Minister also reintroduced the tax on sanitary towels. So Tanzanians still pay tax on sanitary products. His justification was that businesses didn’t lower their prices when it was introduced. Pretty weak defense tbh. Both the tampon tax and the new wig tax disproportionately affect women in Tanzania, and they deserve better.
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