Should We Be Paying GST On Sunscreen? Skincare Founder Katey Mandy Takes On The NZ Government

By Ashleigh Cometti
Raaie founder Katey Mandy is lobbying the government to remove all GST off the retail price of sunscreen in Aotearoa. Photo / Raaie

A new petition launched by local skincare entrepreneur Katey Mandy is challenging the New Zealand Government to remove GST from the sale of sunscreen products.

As far as skincare products go, there’s one that remains non-negotiable no matter your skin type, skin tone, or budget: sunscreen.

In Aotearoa, we’re

However, no matter which formula you choose to use (and apply, daily) there’s one similarity every sunscreen available for sale in Aotearoa shares — their retail price has GST added.

But is it fair to pay GST on a product that can save your life?

Katey Mandy, entrepreneur and founder of local skincare label Raaie, doesn’t think so, and now she’s urging you to join her mission to lobby the government to do away with GST on sunscreen altogether.

As of today, March 1, Katey has revealed a petition to end what she calls “New Zealand’s most cancerous tax”, by demanding the Government eliminate the GST levy on sunscreen.

Katey’s goal is to accumulate 50,000 signatures before presenting the petition to the Government in a bid to enact change.

Sunscreen is the first line of defence against skin cancer, including melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer that claims the lives of 350 people across the motu annually.

A study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed that it’s estimated that skin cancer-related treatment will cost the New Zealand health system $300 million per year by 2025, yet the estimated revenue generated in GST from sunscreen sales is only $4.2 million.

As the cost of living crisis continues, Katey says she believes everyone, regardless of their budget, should have access to sunscreen.

“Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither should access to protection,” Katey says.

“It’s hard to believe that in a country where the sun’s rays pose such a grave threat to our health, we’re effectively penalising citizens for safeguarding themselves against it. For example, Australia, who also have the highest rates of cutaneous malignant melanoma globally, do not have GST on sunscreen products and per capita experiences lower rates of death relating to melanoma.”

A petition has launched today calling for the removal GST from the sale of sunscreen. Photo / Raaie
A petition has launched today calling for the removal GST from the sale of sunscreen. Photo / Raaie

Sunscreens in Australia are regulated under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), one of the strictest requirements for sunscreen globally, which position primary sunscreens as therapeutic goods.

In order to be sold in Australia, sunscreens must meet therapeutic good legislative requirements, such as testing, labelling and advertising, as outlined by the Australian/New Zealand Sunscreen Standard (AS/NZS 2604:2012).

As such, under section 6 of the Health Sector on the Parliament of Australia website, the Australian Cancer Society explained that skin cancer is the most expensive burden on their health system, and added, “the continuation of having no tax on sunscreen will provide considerable health benefits to the general public and in the long term, potentially reduce considerably the costs of public health system.”

Katey maintains that Australia is a step ahead by not adding GST to the price of sunscreens sold there. Photo / Raaie
Katey maintains that Australia is a step ahead by not adding GST to the price of sunscreens sold there. Photo / Raaie

In a “practise what you preach” move, Katey is leading the charge by pledging to remove all GST off Raaie Sun Milk Drops Tinted SPF50, now $100, by removing 15 per cent off the retail price, and encourages other sunscreen brands to do the same.

“Whether you use a boutique facial sunscreen or an all-body, everyday sunscreen, we can all benefit from making sunscreen more accessible. And we urge other sunscreen brands and consumers to join us in putting an end to this tax,” Katey says.

The petition is backed by Dr Bronwen McNoe, a skin cancer prevention researcher at the University of Otago with more than 30 years’ experience in the health industry, agrees that GST can be a barrier for those shopping the shelves.

“Removing the GST on sunscreen would lower the cost, making it more affordable for New Zealanders to use this highly effective sun protection method,” she says.

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