Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/877/21675
The 'tampon tax' is a tax on being a woman - scrap the tampon tax!
The menstrual cycle is not usually a topic of choice in the mainstream media. More it is regarded as an embarrassing secret for women to hide from the rest of society. However, the topic was forced when Labour MP Paula Sherriff challenged the "tampon tax" in parliament.
Introduced in the 1970s, the tax declares tampons a 'luxury item' subject to VAT under European Union (EU) rules. The rate was cut from 17.5% to the EU minimum of 5% in 2000. But campaigns across the world demand the removal of all taxation on sanitary products.
Sherriff's proposed amendment to Osborne's finance bill was merely to negotiate with the EU for a reduction in the rate. But even this was defeated by 305 to 287 votes - by a large majority of male MPs.
An argument over whether tampons are a 'luxury item' seems ridiculous. They are a necessity, no two ways about it.
When things like Jaffa Cakes and crocodile meat are taxed less for being 'essential items', you realise logic has gone out the window. The tampon tax is nothing less than a tax on being a woman.
In reality, all VAT is regressive taxation. It is a flat tax, disguised by being folded into a product's overall price, where a millionaire pays the same rate as a homeless person.
The toxic cocktail of austerity, increasing childcare costs and decreasing wages puts sanitary products beyond the reach of some women. It shouldn't be a choice between eating, heating or wearing a tampon. It doesn't have to be.
Public service union PCS estimates over £120 billion is avoided and evaded in tax by the super-rich every year. Collecting that money would be a first step towards building a society which can meet the needs of everyone.
In The Socialist 4 November 2015:
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