The Government taxes sanitary towels but not crocodile steaks. Does valuing exotic meats above sanitary hygiene truly reflect society’s beliefs?
A 5 per cent tax rate has been placed on sanitary products, while exotic meats walk tax-free. HM Revenue and Customs justified this tax by classifying sanitary products as “non-essential, luxury” items. Despite decades of protesting, this tax has survived for almost half a century!
Sanitary products control and manage menstruation. They are essential because without them, those who menstruate would have no way of perusing a normal, flexible, public or private life and would be at risk of jeopardising their health. We should all feel free to enjoy a life of our choice: period or no period.
Essential items should not be taxed because tax implements a monetary discouragement that lessens a product’s accessibility and affordability. It is therefore damaging to stand by a tax that has restricted the public’s access to healthcare and constrained their ability to consume a vital range of products for decades.
We are here to remind HMRC that menstruating men and women exist and that public policy should reflect this. Tax allocations should expose the needs of society as a whole, and the needs of those who menstruate as well as those who don’t. Because we care about these people, this campaign was made in support of tax allocations representing them and reflecting something that is vital.
George Osborne, sanitary products should join your list of essential, tax exempt products, which include “edible sugar flowers”, “alcoholic jellies” and “exotic meats including crocodile and kangaroo”. At the very least we consider sanitary health to be just as important as our thirst for Sam the crocodile (who we thank for being the face of our campaign) and hope that you do too. While we can live without consuming the flesh of unusual animals, we cannot live without the public participation of those who menstruate, which is dependent upon the accessibility of sanitary products.
We hope you support and join our campaign.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter for more information. We would love to hear form you.
Laura and Rosie
A more detailed explaination of our rationale can be found here.
Extra information detailing how and why sanitary tax was implemented:
After the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, a 17.5% sanitary tax was introduced. It was justified when Parliament classified sanitary products as “non-essential, luxury” items.
After years of hard work, in 2000 Labour MP Dawn Primarolo (who we are working closely with on this campaign) announced that during the following year sanitary tax would be reduced to 5%. She explained the reduction was “about fairness, and doing what we can to lower the cost of a necessity”.
EU law has prevented sanitary products from escaping tax entirely. Following the Union’s decision to standardise tax across the continent, no separate member state can revise VAT allocations without the EU’s permission. For this reason, hopefully with the backing of Westminster, we hope to convince the European Parliament that this is an important issue worth revising, too.