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Sanitary Protection: Vat Zero Rating

Question for Treasury

UIN 153413, tabled on 11 February 2021

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason the zero-rate of value-added tax for period products is not applied to reusable menstrual underwear that has been specifically designed for period management.

Answered on

26 February 2021

A zero rate of VAT has applied to women’s sanitary products since 1 January 2021. This applies to those products which were previously subject to the reduced rate of 5 per cent, for example, tampons and pads, and to reusable menstrual products, such as keepers.

The relief specifically excludes articles of clothing, such as “period pants”. Such exclusions are designed to ensure that the relief is properly targeted, since difficulties in policing the scope of the relief create the potential for litigation, erosion of the tax base and a reduction in revenue. Under existing rules “period pants” may already qualify for the zero rate, if they have been specifically designed to be worn by a child, meet the sizing criteria, and are held out for sale specifically for use by girls under the age of 14 years old.

Details are provided in VAT Notice 714: zero-rating young children's clothing and footwear:

The new zero rate will ensure that every woman that needs sanitary protection during their monthly cycle will now, 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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