After 20 years of campaigning by women’s rights activists, period tax is to be completely scrapped in 2021.
The period tax was introduced in 1973 when the government first established VAT after joining the European Economic Community that gave 10% on sanitary products. Since then, prices on VAT have fluctuated between 10%-17.5%. In 2001, prices settled on 5%.
This has caused outrage across women all over the country as sanitary products were labeled as ‘non-essential’ and a ‘luxury’ item by the government. When in fact, it is something women cannot control, and having sanitary products during a period is a basic human right.
For some women, this can be a huge burden to pay. When you buy a pack of tampons, at the time it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, however over time it all adds up. A tampon tax calculator made by the BBC works out how much money you’ve spent on sanitary products including the VAT. For example, a 30-year-old who started their period when they were 13 has spent £637 on sanitary items and £33 of that is VAT. In that 30-year-olds lifetime, they may spend £1,472.07 on products, £70.10 of which is on VAT.
Women have been fighting for free sanitary products for decades, but with tax being scrapped on products in the UK, other countries may fall into suit. Countries such as Spain and Switzerland have plans to reduce tampon tax however have no moves to completely scrap it yet.