Say Pants to the Tax

Marks & Spencer

In 2021, the Government removed the ‘Tampon Tax’ and most period products became zero-rated for VAT. But under current VAT rules, period pants were classified as garments and therefore subject to a tax rate of 20% - the only period product to still incur VAT - M&S customers alone had paid more than £1.7 million in VAT on period pants since 2020. We had never run a customer-facing lobbying campaign before and, as the country’s leading knicker retailer where 70% of our colleagues and customers are women, felt that a campaign to level the playing field so that no period products incurred VAT was one which M&S customers and colleagues would want to support. Small campaign groups had previously tried to highlight this issue and ask for change, but had not managed to rally significant support. We:

• Built a coalition, amassing public support through a petition and rallying high profile businesses, politicians and NGOs behind an open letter to the Chancellor, which we delivered in person to Downing Street to create a photo opportunity; • Encouraged our supporters to use the Autumn Statement submission process to lobby the Treasury directly; • Held a parliamentary drop in event to build our political support and finally, • Took digi-vans to Westminster two days before the Autumn Statement, reminding the Chancellor that “It’s a bum deal, Jeremy – axe the tax on period pants”.