The UK says Brexit has lowered sales tax on period products as a given country is no longer bound by EU rules.
Britain will stop charging VAT on tampons and sanitary napkins from Friday, the Finance Department said, saying Brexit lowered the sales tax on essential menstrual products.
The country left the European Union’s single market and customs union on Thursday at 23:00 GMT, ending nearly 50 years in which it was bound by Brussels rules.
His departure means he no longer has to enforce a European law imposing a minimum tax of five percent on sanitary products, classified as non-essential luxury items, the Treasury said.
“I am proud that today we are keeping our promise to eliminate the stamp tax. Sanitary products are essential, so it is fair that we do not charge VAT, ”Chancellor Rishi Sunak said.
– Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) January 1, 2021
“Period products are not, and never have been, a luxury – glad that this absurd tax has finally been removed!” tweeted Free Periods, a London-based campaign group. “Next step: products of the free period, according to the law!”
Sunak originally announced the measure in its budget in March.
Politicians have long been calling for this measure, and it has become a symbolic issue for some Brexiteers.
In 2016, the EU said it would give its member states the option of removing the tax, following pressure from then-British Prime Minister David Cameron.
But the change did not take effect.
Felicia Willow, CEO of the Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights, welcomed the move.
“It’s been a long way to get to this point, but finally the sexist tax which saw sanitary products classified as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books,” she said.
Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin in parliament said on Wednesday: “I think it’s worth remembering that we can do things like abolish the stamp tax … just because we are leaving the EU.”
Another activist, Laura Coryton, who launched the Stop Taxing Periods campaign in 2014, told the Guardian website: “It’s a day of celebration today.”
But she added it was “frustrating that the stamp tax is being used as political football in terms of Brexit”.
She said Brexit will reduce the likelihood that the tax will be abolished across the EU, since Britain was the main one, she added.
For the past year, free products have already been distributed to schools and universities in England as well as to hospital patients.
Scotland has gone further and passed a bill in November giving women the legal right to freely access sanitary products in public buildings – the first country in the world to do so.