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Tampon Tax: the luxury of being a woman in GB


To this day, there is something most societies feel uncomfortable talking about and that is women’s period. Crucially, many problems women face because of their period are also not talked about, and therefore not addressed.

To this day, there is something most societies feel uncomfortable talking about and that is women’s period. Crucially, many problems women face because of their period are also not talked about, and therefore not addressed.

Recently, an online petition calling for an end to a tax on sanitary products for women in Britain has recently hit 194,500 signatures. Tampons and sanitary pads are in fact classified as “non-essential, luxury items” by HM Revenue and Customs and taxed 5%. That means that every woman pays an average of £3 for this tax per year and the government earns about £45 million annually. The tax is the result of a 1973 law and at that time the rate was 17.5%. Following a successful campaign in 2000, VAT on tampons and sanitary towels was reduced to 5%. Today, the campaigners argue that the “tampon tax” limits the accessibility and affordability of crucial healthcare products. Many would probably argue that £3 does not impact significantly on a woman’s budget, yet it is not solely about the money but also about the symbolism of the tax and the assumptions on which it is based.

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