Tampon tax: France MPs back VAT cut on sanitary products

Sanitary items

French MPs have voted to cut the VAT on sanitary products from 20% to 5.5% despite previously blocking the move.

The government opposed the change in October as it would reduce tax receipts in 2016 by €55m (£40m, $60m).

But Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after the latest vote in the National Assembly that the government had "found the money" to back to measure.

Campaigns have been launched around the world for the removal of the tax on tampons and sanitary towels.

The feminist collective behind the French proposal, Georgette Sand, welcomed the "victory", saying it was "proud but remaining vigilant".

It called on manufacturers and retailers to pass on the savings so that customers would benefit in 2016.

'Tampon tax' paid around the world

'Half of humanity'

Women's groups had staged protests saying feminine sanitary products should be treated the same way as other essential items such as water and food, or condoms.

Mr Valls said the change of heart was a "step in the right direction" on Friday.

Opposing the change in October, Secretary of State for the Budget, Christian Eckert, said that VAT was also paid at 20% on men's shaving foam.

But Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Friday that the reduction was "in the interest of half of humanity", according to reports.

Countries including the UK, Australia and the Netherlands have been targeted by online petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures.

In October, the UK government said it would go to European Commission over calls for a reduction in the 5% VAT rate on sanitary items.

Australia decided not to remove its tax in August.

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