The ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished - with a zero rate of VAT applying to women’s sanitary products coming into effect today (1 January 2021). The move is made possible by end of the transition period and freedom from EU law mandating VAT on sanitary products.
The UK is no longer legally bound by EU laws which have seen sanitary products subject to five different rates of VAT since 1973 – the latest of which was 5%, effective since January 2001.
While the UK was a Member State of the EU, the UK was unable to apply any rate of VAT lower than a reduced rate of 5% to sanitary products because of the EU VAT Directive.
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
- 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.