The U.K Starts the New Year Right by Abolishing the "Tampon Tax"
As of January 1st, 2021 the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) has set a global precedent by ending the tax on menstrual products also known as the “tampon tax”.
The tampon tax is a tax on feminine hygiene products such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. Feminists and progressive politicians alike have argued that since those who have periods (not just women, since this can also include transgender individuals) cannot control their menstrual cycles, then those products should not be taxed. In the simplest of terms, menstrual products are needs and not wants.
The U.K has joined Canada and 20 U.S states who also abolished the discriminatory tax. Multiple organizations such as LOLA, a new age feminine hygiene company, and Period Equity, a team of lawyers dedicated to ending menstrual inequality, have launched the “Tax-Free Period” campaign. Since the campaign was launched in 2019 5 states have lifted the menstrual products tax including Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and California (although this promise is only through summer 2023). The “Tax-Free Period” campaign has also made a series of comparisons showing citizens what products in their state are tax-free as opposed to tampons. For example in Louisiana tampons are taxed, but mardi gras beads are tax-free and in Texas, tampons are taxed, yet “medicated” dandruff shampoo is not. These facts along with others are making some question where the health of people who menstruate fall on the government’s priority list.
Overall, this fight to end the tampon tax is only one step in the right direction to make menstrual products free for all. In late November, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free and accessible for anyone who needs them. This is a dramatic success for the menstrual equity movement and activists hope that other countries will soon follow their lead. But as of now, the U.K’s addition to the list of places without a tampon tax is something to celebrate.