Ukip says it wants to scrap the 'tampon tax'… but claims they can only do it if Britain leaves the EU

Women's sanitary products are currently taxed at a higher rate than male ones, which are classed as 'essentials'

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Indy Politics

Ukip’s manifesto will include a pledge to scrap the ‘tampon tax’ on feminine hygiene products, the party has announced.

The eurosceptic party claims it can only remove the 5% rate of VAT on tampons if Britain leaves the EU because the Europe-wide bloc’s rules prevent the UK from ending tax on them.

“No other party can pledge to take this simple step," Suzanne Evans, the party’s head of policy, said. “Under EU rules no item that has ever had VAT charged on it can have VAT removed completely.

Male shaving products are exempted from VAT entirely because they are classed as ‘essentials’ but HMRC rules currently say female sanitary products are non-essential.

According to the author of a petition on with over 200,000 signatories, Labour has also said it will scrap the tax if elected.

“Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls made a Labour Party commitment today to ending sanitary tax! This is one huge step in the right direction thanks you all of you,” wrote Laura Coryton. Labour has no plans to leave the EU.

Writing in the Independent earlier this month Ms Coryton said the claim the tax could not be scrapped within the EU was "rubbish" and that the campaign had to be EU-wide.

“This is an issue of fairness, and not only for those menstruating in the UK, but in countries across the EU,” she said.

In 2000, the VAT on tampons and sanitary towels was dropped from 17.5% to 5% after a campaign by a Labour MP.

Ukip’s Ms Evans said EU commissioners were mostly men and that they didn’t understand real life.

“This shows not only how ridiculous EU legislation is, but how very wrong it is that we've given our tax sovereignty over to a bunch of faceless - and mostly male - EU Commissioners who simply don't understand real life, let alone real life for women,” she said.

Of the 28 EU commissioners, including the president, 9 are women – or 32%.

This is actually higher than the proportion of women in the UK cabinet, which moved to 25% after the July 2014 reshuffle.


It is also higher than the proportion of women in the UK parliament, which is just over one in five.

According to an HMRC statement: “The application of VAT in the EU, including rates and flexibilities afforded to member states such as the UK, is governed by EU law.

“The UK applies a 5 percent reduced rate of VAT to the supply of sanitary products. This is the lowest rate possible under EU VAT law.”