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Government urged to remove VAT from period pants
Other period products such as pads and tampons are exempt from VAT, but consumers currently pay a 20% tax on period pants as they are ‘garments’.
More than 50 MPs, retailers and charities have written to the government urging it to remove the 20% VAT on period pants, the reusable underwear designed to be worn as an alternative to using tampons and sanitary towels.
Other period products such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups are exempt from VAT, but consumers currently pay a 20% tax on period pants as they are classified as garments.
The letter, signed by 35 MPs and peers, the chief executives of Marks & Spencer and Ocado, the publisher of Hello! magazine and several charities and non-profit organisations, including Breast Cancer Now, the Marine Conservation Society and Forum for the Future, calls on Financial Secretary to the Treasury Victoria Atkins to reclassify the pants as period products in the Chancellor’s autumn statement later this year.
The government made a brilliant start by removing VAT from disposable period products but we need them to finish the job and level the playing field so that whatever period product someone chooses to use, it is VAT free
Victoria McKenzie-Gould, M&S
M&S has also launched the new Say Pants to the Tax campaign with the period underwear brand Wuka, promising to pass on 100% of any cost savings to shoppers if it is successful.
A five-pack bundle of period pants at M&S costs £35, but would be £28 without VAT, while a pack of three – currently £20 – would drop to £16.
M&S, which said it sells more than 6,000 packs of the pants each week, and Wuka calculated that their customers combined had paid more than £3 million in VAT on period pants.
A survey of 268 women aged 18 to 54, conducted last month, found that 23% of respondents cited cost as a reason for not using period pants, with 83% in favour of dropping VAT from the products.
Period pants can be washed and worn again for months, which means they can save consumers money and help reduce plastic waste.
Wuka estimates that one pair of period pants can save 200 single-use plastic disposables from going to landfill.
Victoria McKenzie-Gould, corporate affairs director at M&S, said: “The government made a brilliant start by removing VAT from disposable period products but we need them to finish the job and level the playing field so that whatever period product someone chooses to use, it is VAT free.
“Nearly 25% of women cite cost as a barrier to using period pants. If they were classified as they should be – as a period product – the government can make this brilliant alternative to disposable products a more cost-effective option for UK consumers.”
In May, the Treasury said it would analyse whether the removal of the “tampon tax” has helped lower prices.
Responding to a written question from the Labour MP Ruth Cadbury, the government said a tax reduction was able to “contribute to the conditions for price reductions” and it was “looking into whether this important zero rating is being passed on by retailers to women as intended”.