After two long years of campaigning and with the support of over 320,000 amazing signers, our tampon tax petition succeeded in 2016 when the UK Government committed to axing tampon tax by March 2019. Last weekend this deadline was extended. We might be stuck with tampon tax until 2022. That is not okay. Our new petition was launched to ensure the sexist 5% ‘luxury’ levy imposed on period products (including tampons and sanitary pads) is axed as soon as possible. Period. You can sign and share it here!
Our taxation system may well be weird and complex, but it shouldn’t be sexist. Since 1973, those who menstruate themselves or those who have friends or family members who do (ie most of the population) have been paying extra for the ‘luxury’ of buying period products after a then male dominated, if not male exclusive parliament deemed them NOT a necessity. In 2001, tampon tax was reduced from 17.5% to 5% after our hero Dawn Primarolo MP brought the case to Parliament. This was a HUGE leap forward, but the tax still exists and so does its sexist undertones which suggest a clear separation between priorities for women and the entire country.
In 2016 women won again when the kick ass Paula Sherriff MP helped us to convince the Government to axe tampon tax for good by 2019. But this deadline has been extended to 2022. In a little over 24 hours, over 18,000 awesome people have signed our new tampon tax to make sure this extension does not stick. Period. We need period products to join HMRC’s list of ‘essential’ items which escape tax entirely, currently including ‘alcoholic jellies’, ‘maintaining private helicopters’, ‘bingo’ and ‘exotic meats including horse and crocodile’. Parliament may have valued its private helicopters above its women in 1973, but I would like to think they don’t anymore…!
Our taxation system may well be weird and complex, but it shouldn’t be sexist
Although this levy has and will effect most of the population, it is directed at women’s bodies and has effected women disproportionately. Women will spend an average of £18,000 on her period over a lifetime on painkillers, medication and related products as well as tampons, menstrual cups or sanitary pads, 10% of our schoolgirls are missing school because they cannot afford period products and homeless and vulnerable women routinely risk damaging their health by using unsanitary alternatives when on their periods. We shouldn’t have a taxation system that systematically makes these injustices worse or a government that actively capitalises from systemic sexism. Please sign and share our new petition to make sure these stop as soon as possible!
The deadline for ending tampon tax has been extended for two interrelated reasons. The European Union regulates taxation policy across member states. They have ultimate authority over tax changes, including the reduction of tampon tax. As soon as we learned this we took our fight straight to Brussels. With then Prime Minister David Cameron on our side we convinced the Union that all member states should be allowed to lower tampon tax if they so wished: a unprecedented change to European law for which we had to secure the support of ALL member states. A review of this decision was published last weekend. It stated that such a change to EU law would take another four years to finalise, taking us to 2022.
You may be wondering how this effects us if we are to leave the EU. Well, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Brexit transition period is predicted to last until the end of 2021. But there is wiggle room here. The EU commissioner for taxation has already stated that he want to see this change happen as soon as possible and to delegate taxation legislative powers to member states. As we were the member state that initially pushed for the ability to axe tampon tax, and are in the process of leaving the Union anyway, our Chancellor Philip Hammond could argue that we should be able to axe our tax sooner if this is a Brexit priority. We need to make enough noise about this a possible to make sure it happens. Period!