The UK has abolished the 5 per cent rate of value-added tax (VAT) on menstrual products, known as the tampon tax — meaning that there will no longer be VAT on period products from January 1 onwards.
“(The) tampon tax abolished – from today (1 Jan 2021) VAT no longer applies to women’s sanitary products. (This is a) part of wider government action to End Period Poverty which includes the roll-out of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals. The move made possible by end of the transition period and freedom from EU law mandating VAT on sanitary products,” the UK Government said in a statement.
The statement further said that the move honours a government commitment to scrap the tax and is part of a wider strategy to make sanitary products affordable and available for all women.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I’m proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential so it’s right that we do not charge VAT.”
He added, “We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women.”
The Chancellor announced that the tampon tax was to be abolished from 1 January 2021 at March 2020 Budget. As the transition period ended on December 31st, the UK is no longer bound by the EU VAT Directive which mandates a minimum 5% tax on all sanitary products.
According to CNN, Campaigners had been calling for the end of the tax, labeled “sexist” and “outdated,” for years.
“It’s been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books,” Felicia Willow Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s oldest charity campaigning for women’s rights and gender equality.
Scotland became the first country in the world to allow free and universal access to menstrual products, including tampons and pads, in public facilities, in November 2020.
Globally, just a handful of countries have zero tax added to sanitary products, including Canada, India, Australia, Kenya and several US states.
Germany also voted to reduce its tax rate on feminine hygiene products after deeming them to be a daily necessity, not a luxury.
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