Period pants still being hit with VAT tax despite pads and tampons getting off the hook from 2021

Lauren Clark
·2 mins read
Period pants are still being subject to a 20% tax levy. (Getty Images)
Period pants are still being subject to a 20% tax levy. (Getty Images)

It is now well-known that disposable tampons and sanitary pads aren’t fantastic for the environment - with reusable menstrual cups a much more eco-friendly option.

As are period pants – ordinary-looking underwear that cleverly absorbs your period made from highly-absorbent material that can hold up to two tampons’ worth of menstrual blood per pair.

In March it was announced by HM Treasury that tampons and sanitary pads will have their VAT dropped from January 1st, after previously being taxed at 5%.

However, despite a campaign, the UK government has refused to budge on its decision to continue using the 20% levy on period pants.

Read more: Sainsbury's launches new range of period underwear Love Luna

Earlier this year, period pant brand Wuka petitioned the government to stop penalising women using this more sustainable choice to manage their periods.

They launched a petition calling for them to receive “0% VAT along with disposable menstrual products in the new financial year” – which has so far received more than 11,000 signatures.

However, the government has refused to tweak the legislation, explaining that “difficulties in policing the scope of the relief create the potential for litigation, erosion of the tax base and a reduction in revenue”.

They added: “Even though period pants may find they do not qualify, the new zero rate will ensure that every woman that needs sanitary protection during their monthly cycle will, from the start of January and for the first time, have access to a variety of zero rated products on which they had previously paid a 5 per cent rate of VAT.”

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After months of our collective campaigning to recognise reusable period pants as a menstrual product and be taxed at 0% from January along with disposable tampons and pads, we have had a response to our petition from the government. It’s not good news and we are ready to kick ass.⁠ ⁠ Why is this important to us? ⁠ ✅First, Period Pants are a sustainable period protection option and therefore should be taxed fairly with single-use pads and tampons.⁠ ✅ Secondly, because we want to make period pants more affordable for all. WUKA and our stockists have committed to pass any VAT reduction directly to you when we succeed.⁠ ⁠ So what does the Government have to say? ⁠ ⁠ You can read the full response on the official petition page (found in our Instagram page bio) and also our response on our blog post: the short answer is that we will not stop and ask you to not stop until period pants are recognised as a menstrual product and are therefore taxed fairly alongside all other menstrual products. ⁠ ⁠ What can you do right now?⁠ ⭐We urge you to keep going to 100,000 signatures and bring this debate to the parliament floor - if only to hear aged politicians have to talk about Periods openly and without taboo! So PLEASE SHARE OUR CAMPAIGN - if each of you tell 10 friends, we will go way past 100,000 signatures. ⁠ ⭐Write to your MP and tell them your view. We have a template on our website, easy for you to use. ⁠PLUS tag your MP in this post. ⭐Email us your response to this government statement with how this affects you and your family personally. We are gathering your voices collectively to bring to the notice of the government. Email us at ruby@wuka.co.uk⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Thank you for all the support, thank you for being part of the movement that is much larger than any of us. Let’s make some noise and kick ass together. ⁠ ⁠ #periodtax #periodpositive #periodtmatters #yourvoice #menstruationmatters #menstruation⁠ #periodmyths #periodtaboos #periodstigma #menstruationtaboos #wuka #wukapants #periodpants #highwaist #periodmatters #periodhealth #sustainableperiods

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Wuka - who had promised to pass any VAT reduction onto customers - is one of a number of brands selling period pants, including Thinx, Modibodi and Sainsbury’s.

According to the Women’s Environmental Network, the average woman will get through an incredible 11,000 disposable menstrual products.

While the number of tampons or pads used will vary per woman, depending on how heavy her period is, how long it lasts and how frequently it comes, the costs add up.

It has previously been revealed that a monthly bleed costs the average woman £18,000 in a lifetime.