Most developed countries have tax exemptions for “necessity items” such as toilet paper, soap, and other personal care goods. Despite this exemption, women in the UK (and many other countries) still pay a five percent tax on menstrual items such as tampons, sanitary pads, and menstrual cups. However, this is about to change as Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the tax will no longer exist under the 2020 budget.
So how money much will this save women? The elimination of the tax, which consists of a 7p on a pack of 20 tampons and 5p on a pack of 12 pads, will save women, on average, £40 over their lifetime.
A 2016 movement to end the period tax did not succeed in eliminating the tax but did achieve some success in ensuring that funds raised by the tax on sanitary products would be donated to charities that aid vulnerable women. More than £62 million has been allocated to charities since 2015.
This is a big solution towards ending period poverty and eliminating a tax that disproportionately affects women by adding a charge to menstrual products that are critical for women’s health.
Last year, we shared a story about Nadya Okamoto, who founded a non-profit to advocate for access to menstrual products for all women. Eliminating the period tax, which varies between four and nine percent in the U.S, is a big goal of her organization. Hopefully, we will soon see other countries follow the UK’s example and eliminate gender-biased period taxes.