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Everything You Need to Know About the Tampon Tax

As girls, we all know what a pain periods can be (no pun intended).  I don’t even need to go into the list of physical symptoms, because we all just… get it.  But you know what’s an even bigger pain about periods? The fact that tampons, a necessity for our periods, are taxed in most states.  You’re probably thinking “that’s not right, is it?” Yes, unfortunately it is.  So we’ll break down for you what the deal is with the tax.

Currently, only eleven states don’t tax feminine hygiene products (Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania don’t tax these products; Oregon, Montana, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Alaska don’t have a sales tax at all), according to Newsweek.  There is no law that specifically targets tampons being taxed, but many states don’t exempt tampons from taxation under laws that grant tax-exemption to other “medical necessities.”

So, would eliminating the “tampon tax” save women a lot of money? Plain and simple, yes.  Newsweek published an estimate that predicts eliminating the tax in New York would save consumers $10 million a year and those in California about $20 million.

In addition, there are a number of items that aren’t taxed that seem less important than tampons.  For example, according to Cosmopolitan, Viagra isn’t taxed in some states because it falls under the “necessity” category because it is a prescribed medicine, such as in Wisconsin.  Also, more states exempt candy from taxes than those who exempt tampons (it’s 15 states for candy, 11 for tampons).

Luckily, the fight to end the tax is getting the spotlight it deserves recently. In the last year, the legislatures of New York, Illinois, and Connecticut have passed measures to end the tax on feminine hygiene products, with New York’s bill being signed into effect.  California’s state legislature unanimously approved a bill in August to end the tax.

Unfortunately, the fight is far from over.  California’s governor Jerry Brown ended up vetoing the bill, citing budget issues, which has been heavily criticized, according to the Washington Post.  Cristina Garcia, the bill’s co-author, noted to the Huffington Post “there’s no other tax that’s gender specific in the tax code.  Women matter and we need to send that message to the Governor” and “Men purchase Viagra and they don’t get taxed.” Therefore, states still have a long way to go.

Eliminating the tampon tax is just another step to take to promote gender equality and to eliminate an unfair financial burden placed on women.  Other products deemed “medical necessities” aren’t taxed, such as prescription medicine and walkers.  Another issue is that tampons don’t fall under products that can be bought with food stamps, meaning it places yet another burden on women who can’t afford these products and seriously need them.  One more point to consider, unfortunately, is that state legislatures have a male majority, therefore they have a reduced understanding of the problem that women face.

However, women make up more than half of our population, meaning that we can make a change.  Go online to sign Cosmopolitan’s Change.org petition against the tampon tax, and consider talking to your local congressman if your state still taxes feminine hygiene products. 

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

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