The Tampon Tax Is Gone, Huzzah! Now Wait For The Squealing

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It has taken 20 years – no, really, at least that long – but the Tampon Tax is now, finally, gone.

The controversial ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished, as Britain breaks free from EU rules.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to ending the unpopular levy on tampons and sanitary pads in March’s Budget and as of Friday, VAT on the products has been removed.

Brussels laws prevented the Treasury from reducing the VAT rate on the items below 5 per cent.

That’s not quite wholly and exactly correct. The actual rules is/was that you can have things which are exempt from VAT, you can have things that are zero rated. If you do have VAT on something the minimum allowable rate is 5%. Crucially though, you cannot move something from being Vattable down to being either exempt or zero rated. The ratchet only works the one way, only ever upwards.

As to it taking 20 years here is something from that 20 years ago:

It is the tax cut that dare not speak its name – at least not in the Budget announcement. Chancellor Gordon Brown is to slash value added tax on women’s sanitary products – the so-called “Tampax tax” – but was just too embarrassed to say so.

Sustained lobbying from female Labour MPs, led by Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty, persuaded the chancellor to introduce the change, which ends the policy of treating tampons and sanitary towels as luxury items incurring the full 17.5% VAT rate.

The tax will be cut from next January to just 5% – the lowest possible under European rules limiting the goods that can be zero-rated.

There was obviously some political pressure being applied more than 20 years ago to get to that point.

Which is one of those European Union things really, the system just isn’t responsive. We Brits simply were not allowed to do what many Brits desired, not to apply VAT to tampons. Because, you know, this is something so much better handled by an unelected bureaucracy situated well out of range of those affected.

However, it’s necessary to go on to point out something else. For the past few years the amount raised in this taxationthatmustbelieviednomatterdemocracy has been sent back to varied wimmins’ things:

The purpose of the Tampon Tax Fund is to allocate the funds generated from the VAT on sanitary
products to projects that improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. The fund was announced by
the then Chancellor during the 2015 Autumn Statement: “There are many great charities that work to
support vulnerable women. And my Honourable Friend, the new Member for Colchester, has proposed to
me a brilliant way to give them more help. 300,000 people have signed a petition arguing that no VAT
should be charged on sanitary products. We already charge the lowest 5% rate allowable under European
law and we’re committed to getting the EU rules changed. Until that happens, I’m going to use the £15
million a year raised from the Tampon Tax to fund women’s health and support charities”.

The launch of this round of funding demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to ensuring that
the VAT received from sanitary products is used to support vulnerable and underrepresented women and
girls. This guide introduces the next round of Tampon Tax Funding and provides details of how to apply.
The 2020/21 round of Tampon Tax Funding is inviting charitable, benevolent and philanthropic
organisations from across the United Kingdom to bid into one of three categories: violence against women and girls, young women’s mental health and well being, and a general programme. The criteria for each category can be found below.

The best that could be done under the circumstances.

But here’s the prediction. There will be caterwauling from those who won’t be able to apply for funds next year as the tax no longer exists therefore the funds don’t. But of course, all these wimmins’ things are of such great importance that we shouldn’t stop the spending just because of that inconvenience of reality. Therefore the cry will be that the spending must continue even if the tax does not. Starting in 3…2…1….

Update: I wrote this over the weekend to publish today. And lo, before even publication:

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Spike
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Spike

Did I read that the change will save women £40 over their LIFETIMES? This beats Yankee pols who boast about the magnitude of their budget moves “over ten years.”

Yes, the EU is unresponsive and it is good that the UK has escaped. But not escaped from fallacies, such as that menstruation is not a woman’s fault so it must be everyone else’s.

Your last point is a case of touting one’s proposal and ignoring the consequences. There is going to be an epidemic of this in the USA.

jgh
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jgh

Yep, removing the tax drops an Asda tampon from 3.3p to 3.17p.

Esteban
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Esteban

This article and Spike’s comments need to be revised immediately – they clearly imply that only women menstruate.

Arthur the Cat
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Arthur the Cat

The Guardian already ran an article on the 31st December that ended

“The tampon tax has long been a symbol of policymaking based around men’s needs, so removing VAT is symbolically important,”’ said Mary-Ann Stephenson of the Women’s Budget Group. “But the tampon tax money has been an important source of funding for the women’s sector – the government needs to be clear about what will replace it.”

Arthur the Cat
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Arthur the Cat

Oh, and it also had this little gem about how evil Brexit is

“That process has since gone cold, because we then left the EU and we were the ones pushing for it,” said Coryton. “So if anything, actually, Brexit has made it worse, because if we were to have stayed in the EU, then this piece of legislation would have gone through… then any EU member would be able to axe the tax, not just the UK.”

John B
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John B

Because as we know the EU always did what the UK asked.

Spike
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Spike

“this piece of legislation would have gone through” means “could” have gone through. As they have bills and votes and stuff. Never mind that in 20 years it DIDN’T go through. It is a gem, of comparing two institutions using a flagrant double standard.

jgh
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jgh

But that funding for The Women’s Sector was to address the iniquity caused by the taxing of tampons. Now that iniquity of tax on tampons has gone there’s no iniquity of tax on tampons to address.

steve fleischer
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steve fleischer

Tired of the constant requests for money.

I gave, but the site doesn’t recognize my URL as a giver and keeps asking for money.

Wish that I had saved my money.

Balam
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Balam

People seem to be able to simultaneously say that this is a ‘big win’ for women, and that ‘a mere few pence per pack’ from Brexit is no great accomplishment.