After a lot of dispute over recent years, the ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished. As a result, a zero rate of VAT now applies to women’s sanitary products as of 1 January 2021.

This comes as part of the governments action to end Period Poverty which includes the roll out of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals. This has been made possible by the end of the transition period and freedom from EU law mandating VAT on sanitary products

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 which includes:

  • January 2020’s roll out of free period products for all young people in English state schools and colleges and extension of the scheme into 2021
  • the NHS offering period products to every hospital patient who needs them (including long-term in-patients) since 2019
  • the Tampon Tax Fund, established in 2015, which allocated the funds generated from VAT on period products to projects supporting vulnerable and excluded women and girls

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.

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.

Felicia Willow, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said:

“We warmly welcome the scrapping of VAT on all sanitary products from 1 January 2021 and congratulate the government on taking this positive step.

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.

The Tampon Tax Fund will continue to provide funding for projects supporting vulnerable women and girls. Successful applicants to the £15 million funding for 2020/21 were announced last month.”

This is fantastic news which will definitely help to make sanitary products more affordable, seeming as they were previously considered a ‘luxury’ item under EU policy. Hopefully this is one of the many other benefits that will come of the UK leaving the EU.