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Sanitary Protection: VAT

Question for Treasury

UIN 153414, tabled on 11 February 2021

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect on women of not including reusable menstrual underwear in the new zero rate of VAT for sanitary protection products.

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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