'Tampon tax' under fire as Superdrug vows to give VAT money back in points

Sanitary products carry 5 per cent VAT in the UK under European rules

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The Independent Online

Superdrug is fighting back against the so-called "tampon tax" that means women must pay VAT to the Treasury on sanitary products.

Sanitary products carry 5 per cent VAT in the UK under European rules, because they are classed as luxury, rather than essential, items.

Superdrug, the high street pharmacy, has promised to give customers between three and 10 points on their loyalty cards, which works out as a penny a point to spend in store, every time they buy Superdrug's own brand of tampons and sanitary towels.

Gemma Mason, Superdrug head of customer service, said that millions of women visit Superdrug every week to buy sanitary products.

“We are hopeful that the rules will change in the future, until then we are delighted to give a little back to our customers," Mason said.

The Treasury takes £15 million a year in VAT from sanitary products. In the last spending review, the Chancellor George Osborne promised to give the VAT to women's charities.

Osborne has said he will lobby the European Commission to change the rules so he they can remove the rate entirely – a policy that is not currently permitted by EU law.

That's because tampons, unlike razors or condoms, are not deemed "essential" products and are therefore taxed like luxury items.

Superdrug said it will pay back £60,000 in points to its Health & Beauty Card members this year in donations.