Women’s Views on Calls for VAT Exemption on Bras

Women Bra VAT Exemption

A recent call by a group of radiographers for bras to be exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) has sparked a debate. The group argues that bras, like sanitary products, are essential for women’s health and should not be subject to the 20% tax currently in place.

The argument is that the high cost of well-fitted bras, which are crucial for preventing physical discomfort, discourages women from purchasing them. At present, only women who have undergone breast cancer surgery are exempt from this tax.

Paula Goodale, a woman from Sheffield, shared her experience, stating that due to her larger bust size, she has to buy her bras from a specialist shop, costing between £40 to £50 each. She emphasized that a well-fitted bra providing proper support and comfort is a necessity, not a luxury.

At the annual conference of the Society of Radiographers, professionals backed a motion calling on the government to abolish VAT on bras. They drew parallels with the removal of the tampon tax in 2021, arguing that bras, like tampons, are related to women’s physical health.

Diagnostic radiographers, who carry out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, can identify musculoskeletal problems caused by poorly fitted bras. They highlighted that women wearing a larger cup size often suffer from backaches, aching shoulders, and neck pain due to the weight of their breasts.

Bra-fitting specialist Sally McGann, who works with hospitals and other healthcare professionals, supports the proposal but stresses the need for better education around wearing the correct bra. She warns that a badly fitted bra can lead to various pains and musculoskeletal problems.

However, tax expert Dan Neidle argued that removing the tax would not necessarily mean consumers pay less for their bras. He suggested that any VAT cut in bras would boost the profits of suppliers and retailers, particularly those selling the most expensive bras.

The government responded by stating that all taxes are kept under review and that tax reliefs do not always represent the best value for money, as there is no guarantee savings would be passed on to consumers. They pointed out that bras worn by women recovering from breast cancer surgery are already exempt from VAT.

This debate highlights the complexities of tax policies and their impact on consumers, particularly when it comes to products related to women’s health. It remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved, but it is clear that it has sparked a significant discussion about the financial burden of essential women’s health products.

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