Much like period pain, for a long time the tampon tax was seen as yet another necessary evil for women to deal with every month (or as my friend’s brother believed for a long time as a teenager: every six months, ‘like dogs right?’)
But in the last few years women have said enough, with celebrities such as Amber Rose getting behind anti-tampon tax campaigns and supermarkets like Waitrose and Tesco agreeing to shoulder the payment themselves, instead of passing it onto women.
Under growing pressure, last year the government agreed that all VAT on sanitary products would be paid to women’s charities rather than into the government’s purse, a move that sparked a backlash when it was discovered that £250 000 of this money was being donated to an anti-abortion charity.
Despite outcry from Pro Choice groups, the government have refused to rescind this funding.
But how much VAT on sanitary products are you actually paying? And how much WILL you pay over your lifetime?
Now the BBC have created a dedicated tampon tax calculator to tell you approximately how much you’ve paid – based on your age and the year you started your period – and how much you’re likely to pay over the rest of your life.
The calculator also tells you how much you’ve probably spent on sanitary products so far, and how much you’re probably set to shell out before you hit the menopause.
An example: if you’re 30 years old and started your period at the age of 13 you’ve spent £701.91 on sanitary products and £37.82 on VAT.
Then over the course of your life you’re expected to spend approximately £1476.68 on products and £74.71 on VAT.
The BBC says the tampon tax calculator works on a number of assumptions: ‘You have 13 periods a year with a 28-day cycle – although periods can range from 21 to 35 days’, you go through menopause at 51 and the cost of towels and tampons are 13p per unit.
Though obviously every period is different…
But annoying as this is, it’s actually a myth that razors are by contrast VAT-free: razors are taxed at a standard 20%. Tampons are taxed at the minimum 5% rate.
But can men just not shave? Yes they can. Can women just not have periods? No, no they can’t.
You know what isn’t VAT-free though? Shop bought pitta bread and Jaffa cakes. It’s a weird world.