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“Tampon tax” scrapped in the UK from 1st January 2021

Periods 101
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“Tampon tax” scrapped in the UK from 1st January 2021

The ‘Stop taxing periods’ campaign was started by, then student, Laura Coryton in 2014 to abolish the “tampon tax”. By 2016 her online petition had gained over 300,000 signatures. It was accompanied by protests calling the UK parliament to scrap a tax that to many seemed to be simply a sexist tax on periods.

Campaigners felt that while the government had reduced the rate on sanitary products in the UK to 5% in 2010, more needed to be done. After all, periods are a natural, physical function that many of us can’t exactly choose to not experience.

From 1st January 2021, menstrual cups, such as the Mooncup, as well as reusable pads, are also exempt from VAT. However, period pants are still taxed at 20%. According to the government the VAT free status is reserved for products solely designed for the absorption or collection of menstrual flow, ie. not products used for example to manage incontinence.

The benefits of removing “tampon tax”

The Treasury estimates that removing the VAT from sanitary products will save the average woman using disposables around £40 over her lifetime, with a cut of 7p on a box of 20 tampons and 5p on pack of 12 pads.

Meanwhile, one Mooncup menstrual cup will last for years, and already costs the same as you’d spend on disposables in 6-8 months. Once the zero-rate is applied to sanitary products, new Mooncup customers will benefit from even greater savings.

Let’s talk periods

Scrapping period tax means that the Mooncup, already a money-saving, eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads, will be accessible to even more users. But campaigns about period products are equally important as they often trigger more conversations about our attitudes towards menstruation.

Keeping periods in the news normalises the subject and helps to tackle the stigma still surrounding menstruation.

In the UK, we’ve thankfully seen several wins when it comes to periods in recent times. Scotland became the first country in the world to pass legislation making period products freely available to anyone who needs them.

In England, all state schools and colleges were given a budget in 2020 to provide period products to learners who need them. For the first time ever, reusable Mooncup® is now available free of charge too – offering a long term, plastic-free option to disposables.

Concerns for women’s charities

While scrapping the period tax is great news, it is also a cause for concern for many charities working with vulnerable women and girls. In 2015 the government announced it would spend the tax revenue from period products on charities that help women. This created an awkward marriage, where funding for women’s charities was tied into taxing periods.

The Women’s Resource Centre, a national umbrella group for the women’s sector, has asked government for a spending review and to ring-fence funding for women’s specialist charities. The future for these organisations recently supported by the tax revenue is now unclear.

“Tampon tax” is still a reality around the word

Successful period tax campaigns from Australia, Germany, India and the UK have not gone unnoticed globally. Activists and organisations around the world are now lobbying to abolish unfair taxes on menstrual products. And many governments are listening.

The non-profit, WASH United, who runs the global Menstrual Hygiene Day, has put together resources and case studies for anyone interested in campaigning to abolish period tax. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Find out more about the Mooncup menstrual cup and buy yours here.

If you you have any questions about the Mooncup, please feel free to contact us here.

Calculate how much money you could save by making the switch:
Check out the Mooncup® Savings Calculator


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