- Tampon tax abolished – as of today (January 1, 2021) VAT will no longer apply to feminine hygiene products
- Part of the broader government action to reduce poverty usually, including the introduction of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals
- Relocation due to the end of the transition period and exemption from EU law that prescribes VAT on sanitary products
The move recognizes the government's commitment to abolish the tax and is part of a broader strategy to make sanitary products affordable and available to all women. This includes:
- Introducing recreational products for all young people in English government schools and colleges in January 2020 and extending the program until 2021
- The NHS has been offering period products since 2019 to any hospital patient who needs them (including long-term inpatients)
- The Tampon Tax Fund, founded in 2015, which provided the funds generated from VAT for period products for projects to support vulnerable and excluded women and girls
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
I am proud that today we are keeping our promise to abolish the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential, so we don't charge VAT.
We have already introduced free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals, and this commitment brings us one step closer to making them available and affordable to all women.
The Chancellor announced that the tampon tax will be abolished from January 1, 2021 in the March 2020 budget. With the transition period ending on December 31st, the UK is no longer bound by the EU VAT Directive, which imposes a tax of at least 5% on all sanitary products.
Felicia Willow, executive director of the Fawcett Society said:
We very much welcome the abolition of VAT on all sanitary products from January 1, 2021 and congratulate the government on this positive step.
It has been a long way to get to this point, but at last the sexist tax, which classified sanitary ware as a non-essential luxury item, can finally be put on the history books.
The Tampon Tax Fund will continue to provide funding for projects to support vulnerable women and girls. Successful applicants for the £ 15m funding for 2020/21 were announced last month.
- The UK is therefore no longer legally bound by EU laws according to which sanitary products have been subject to five different VAT rates since 1973 – most recently 5%, which has been in effect since January 2001.
- Although the UK was bound by the EU VAT Directive, Parliament approved the move to a zero rate, with a provision in the 2016 Finance Act for such a case. The UK also set up the Tampon Tax Fund in 2015 to donate money to charity equal to the amount of VAT revenue collected. Since then, £ 47 million has been donated to charities that work with vulnerable women and girls.
- The zero rate was set by law in the Finance Act 2016 so the change can take effect once the UK has some discretion within its legal obligations.
- While the UK was a member state of the EU, the EU VAT Directive prevented us from applying a VAT rate of less than 5% on sanitary products.