How to Abolish Indirect Taxes on Menstrual Hygiene Products

David Rüll

Research output: Working paperResearch


The levying of indirect taxes on menstrual hygiene products is facing widespread criticism because of its inequality implications. Most obviously, charging value-added tax or goods and services tax (VAT/GST) raises gender equality concerns: only menstruating persons are in a need of these products and there is no equivalent product that those who do not menstruate are compelled to acquire. Furthermore, taxing menstrual hygiene products stresses pre-existing socio-economic inequalities: for many in very low-income countries, the additional tax burden might be decisive to the question of whether they are able to purchase these products. Limiting access to menstrual hygiene products has serious implications for people: it can exclude them from social life or disable them from going to work or to school.

In this contribution, I examine how the VAT/GST tax burden on menstrual hygiene products can be – and already is in several states – reduced. Thereby, I discuss different methodological options as well as the possible wording of a provision to grant preferential taxation to menstrual hygiene products. Additionally, I consider whether sustainable products should be promoted in the course of such a measure. Finally, I contemplate whether there are options to discourage companies along the supply chain from increasing their profit margin as a reaction to the decreased tax burden.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [wp]
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
SeriesCBS LAW Research Paper


  • Value-added tax
  • Inequality
  • Menstrual hygiene products
  • Low-income countries

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