The UK got rid of the tampon tax, when will the US do that?

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In November, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide its citizens with free sanitary products in its bid to rid the world of period poverty. There have been several organizations such as The Period Movement and activists working tirelessly to get rid of the stigma of menstrual health and diminish the monetary gap between women and girls and the monthly products that they need. Many celebrities such as Busy Phillips and Meghan Markle have lent their voices as advocates in the fight for menstrual equality.

The U.K. has now joined the ranks of several countries that have abolished the tampon tax. Officials who worked on the bill stated that the tax is outdated and sexist. The U.K. was bound by the E.U.’s 5% V.A.T. tax on sanitary items since 2001 and wanted it to be one of the first thing they tackled after the transition period that ended December 31, 2020. Along with abolishing the tampon tax, the NHS has been offering sanitary products to hospital patients that need them since 2020. Below is more on the story via People:

As of Jan. 1, the U.K. is no longer required to have a 5% rate of value-added tax (VAT) on women’s sanitary products, according to a press release from the U.K. government.

The announcement comes as part of a wider government initiative to end period poverty, which includes providing free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals, the press release stated.

“I’m proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential so it’s right that we do not charge VAT,” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

“We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women,” Sunak added.

The decision to abolish the tax was first announced by Sunak at a March 2020 budget following years of protests by campaigners who called the tax “sexist” and “outdated,” CNN reported.

“We warmly welcome the scrapping of VAT on all sanitary products… and congratulate the government on taking this positive step,” said Felicia Willow, the Chief Executive of Fawcett Society, the U.K.’s oldest women’s rights and gender equality charity.

“It’s been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books,” Willow added.

[From People]

The tampon tax is absolutely ludicrous. In the U.S. women cannot even use their flexible spending accounts to buy menstrual products. Yet in all 50 states medical prescriptions are exempt from sales tax including dumb sh*t like Rogaine. Because men having hair is more important than women having access to necessary products that we need every month. The fact that bleeding once a month is not seen as a health issue is problematic. The fact that many women and girls go without these necessities simply because they cannot afford them is appalling. Low income women cannot even purchase sanitary items with their food stamps and this needs to change. I know I spend at least $200 a year on sanitary products and sometimes I tough it out and don’t buy Pamprin or Midol for my cramps because they are so damn expensive.

It angers me that something so natural still has this medieval stigma attached to it. I rarely find reason to cheer the U.K. these days and I believe that the U.K. fumbled the ball by leaving the E.U. But abolishing the tampon tax is probably one of the good things to come out of a bad situation. I understand that the U.S. still suffers from extreme systemic misogyny and hyper capitalism so I do not see a future where all 50 states abolishing the tampon tax let alone provide free sanitary products. It seems that women are forever punished by the patriarchy for just being female and I feel this is ingrained into system just as racism is. I do hope activists and organizations will successfully lobby Congress to abolish the tampon tax across the country. I don’t know if this is possible and it may be up to each state alone but it would be indeed a step in the right direction toward gender health equality.

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