Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Wednesday, 7 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Mar 07, 06:39 PM

lords203100.jpgMPs have voted on Lords reform; voters have been going to the polls to elect new members to the Northern Ireland Assembly; and we profile Nicholas Sarkozy, the man who wants to be the next French president.

All that plus a shocking lead story which, at the time of writing, we can’t reveal details of.

Comment on Wednesday’s programme here.

Is it taxing being a woman?

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Mar 07, 02:57 PM

towels_203.jpgGlancing at the overnight feedback on Wednesday morning, Newsnight was interested to see the following suggestion, presumably prompted by Martha Kearney’s report about Gordon Brown:

"I would like Jeremy Paxman to ask Gordon Brown what his wife thinks of the levy on tampons and panty liners. The 8% VAT is illegal and I wish the BBC to put this question to Gordon Brown."

It’s a question that has had women up in arms for many years – in fact Newsnight’s editor recalls the issue being on the agenda when he was a young lad at university, (of which the web team has yet to be sent any incriminating photos).

We’re very happy to have this discussion on Newsnight’s forum, but first a little recent history; the applicable rate of VAT is not 8%:

From January 2001, the rate of VAT for eligible sanitary protection products was lowered from the full rate of 17.5% to the “reduced rate” of 5%, in line with EU restrictions.

This followed many years of campaigning for sanitary products to be eligible for a “zero rate” of tax.

In 2006, the reduced rate was also applied to condoms and other contraceptives.

More information can be found at HM Revenues and Customs website.

So where does this leave the debate? The fact is that VAT is applied to sanitary products, albeit at the reduced rate. Does this still amount to a tax on being a woman?

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