The Tampon Tax: Why girls are getting their period panties in a twist

So recently parliament has voted to reject the elimination of tax on sanitary products, and now it’s the talk of the town. Here’s what it is and how it’s effecting us…

menstrual cup, sanitary products, pads and tampons, the tampon tax
Have you heard of a menstrual cup before? They save you a lot of money but they are also still taxed! photo credit: Menstruationstasse (DivaCup) mit Stoffbeutel via photopin (license)

How much is it being taxed on tampons and sanitary products?

Compared to the standard 20% value added tax on most items and services you pay for, it has recently been lowered to the reduced percentage of 5% on sanitary products. The tax is put on all ‘luxury goods’ in the European Union, and for most goods and services. Only a few items fall into the reduced percentage such as childrenā€™s car seats and some energy-saving materials in the home. AndĀ Zero-rated goods and services like most food and childrenā€™s clothesĀ that don’t have any VAT added.

However, now women are campaigning to get it demolished on the grounds of gender equality.Ā AsĀ menstruation is a natural bodily function that everyone with a functioning womb has to go through, they’re using the ‘unfair’ card to abolish the ‘tampon fine’ bestowed on uteruses. On average women would spend from a minimum of around Ā£1,450 in their life time on sanitary pads, that’s Ā£72.50 that’s going to government. Think of all those things you could buy with that money if you didn’t have to pay VAT on it! Now campaigners are responding to the rejection by threatening to ‘free flow’, when they’d go without the use of any sanitary products to prove a point. If you ask any grandma or older ladies how they dealt with the monthly flow before the sophisticated tampons and other items came about, they would probably tell you horror stories about the sponges they stuck up there and old rags they had to boil. Women suffering from Toxic Shock syndrome has dramatically fallen since sanitary pads were introduced. Although it is still a very real syndrome that all women should still be aware of, reverting back to the old way simply isn’t a solution.

“It is absurd that while men’s razors, children’s nappies and even products like Jaffa Cakes, exotic meats and edible cake decorations are free from VAT, women are still having to pay additional costs on what is already an expensive yet vital product.” said SNP MP Alison Thewliss.

So what is their argument to keep the tax?

It’s ‘too hard’ to simply just remove the tax on ‘said products’.

So, the EU are simply too lazy to amend the tax, and of the 305 MPs that voted against the 287 were all males. Some couldn’t even muster the courage to say ‘tampon’. Just use a menstrual cup you say? It still get’s taxed! So following the previous calculations of the average woman. You’d spend a minimum of Ā£468 in your lifetime on the cups, assumingĀ that you started using them from your first period (and we can all agree that sticking something up yourself at that initial stage is probably the last thing on your mind). You would be handing over Ā£23.40 to government to spend as they see fit. Although this is a fraction of the amount compared to pads, there’s still misconceptions around the cup and tampons that religious communities still stand against. At the end of the day, we don’t want to be charged anything more than what we should be paying for a product that is a necessity!

What can you do? Join the campaign and sign the petition Stop Taxing Periods. Period. on

You don’t have to be a woman to join the cause.


The Tampon Tax: Why girls are getting their period panties in a twist

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