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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 November 2015

The 'tampon tax' is a tax on being a woman - scrap the tampon tax!

Tessa Warrington

The menstrual cycle is not usually a topic of choice in the mainstream media. More it is regarded as an embarrassing secret for women to hide from the rest of society. However, the topic was forced when Labour MP Paula Sherriff challenged the "tampon tax" in parliament.

Introduced in the 1970s, the tax declares tampons a 'luxury item' subject to VAT under European Union (EU) rules. The rate was cut from 17.5% to the EU minimum of 5% in 2000. But campaigns across the world demand the removal of all taxation on sanitary products.

Sherriff's proposed amendment to Osborne's finance bill was merely to negotiate with the EU for a reduction in the rate. But even this was defeated by 305 to 287 votes - by a large majority of male MPs.

An argument over whether tampons are a 'luxury item' seems ridiculous. They are a necessity, no two ways about it.

When things like Jaffa Cakes and crocodile meat are taxed less for being 'essential items', you realise logic has gone out the window. The tampon tax is nothing less than a tax on being a woman.

In reality, all VAT is regressive taxation. It is a flat tax, disguised by being folded into a product's overall price, where a millionaire pays the same rate as a homeless person.

Toxic

The toxic cocktail of austerity, increasing childcare costs and decreasing wages puts sanitary products beyond the reach of some women. It shouldn't be a choice between eating, heating or wearing a tampon. It doesn't have to be.

Public service union PCS estimates over 120 billion is avoided and evaded in tax by the super-rich every year. Collecting that money would be a first step towards building a society which can meet the needs of everyone.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 4 November 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

10 an hour now!

Unions must capitalise on mass anger at austerity and anti-union laws

The 'tampon tax' is a tax on being a woman

Long hours ruining health without lifting productivity

Transgender woman locked up in male prison

Tory bid to turn co-op tenants against one another

Them & Us

What we saw


International socialist news and analysis

US: #blacklivesmatter movement challenges racism

Turkey: Erdogan's victory based on fear and intimidation

International news in brief


Socialist Party features

The Socialist: A fighting antidote to the mainstream media's lies

The socialist case for nationalisation of the steel industry

Struggle for solidarity with refugees must be anti-austerity

Where did the unions' money go?


Workplace news and analysis

Strike together to Kill the Bill

Determined DLR strikers to "fight all the way"

Unison general secretary election - vote Roger Bannister

London Underground rep targeted for trade union activity

Fire service cuts put people at risk

Solidarity action for victimised Unison rep

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Wrong: Owen Jones tells Labour "abandon anti-austerity"

Cycle cheat Armstrong's hypocrisy and bullying


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

The Socialist campaign: buy it, sell it - read it, write it

Socialist Party joins campaign against NHS bullying

Super Southampton fighting fund campaign


 

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EU:

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European Union:

triangleCatalonia independence movement two years on

triangleLib Dems: little bosses' party elects eager pro-austerity leader

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