Denver City Council Unanimously Votes to Eliminate "Tampon Tax"

On March 26th, the Denver City Council convened to vote on the “Tampon Tax,” the tax added to women’s sanitary products. Unlike other basic necessities that are considered tax-exempt, women’s sanitary products do often have an added sales tax in many states and cities.

Source // Axiom Images

Previously in 2017, Colorado had the opportunity to vote on a similar bill that would’ve instituted a statewide ban on feminine hygiene products’ sales taxes. The state Demographer’s office estimated that 1.5 million menstruating females in Colorado spend $60 per year on feminine hygiene products. The state would’ve lost $2.4 million a year and this loss was a part of the reason why the bill did not pass.

The Denver City Council, pictured below, voted unanimously 11-0 to eliminate sales and use taxes on women’s sanitary products in Denver, acknowledging that sanitary products are a basic necessity for women in Denver. The bill defines these products as “products that are designed to absorb or contain menstrual flow. Feminine hygiene products include, but are not limited to, tampons, menstrual pads, and sanitary napkins, pantiliners, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups.”

Source // City and County of Denver

The sales tax on these products was 4.3% and contributed $2 per person in tax revenue for the state every year. In Denver, the tampon tax generated $450,000 a year from sanitary products.

Denver City Council President Jolon Clark says that the tampon tax “disproportionately impacts low-income people who menstruate and people who menstruate experiencing homelessness.” He said that originally when the bill was brought up by a female staffer, he couldn’t believe that feminine hygiene products were being taxed to begin with. When the staffer insisted that there was a sales tax, he “couldn’t believe for a second that was true.”

Source // giphy.com

While the city has removed their tax, the Colorado’s state sales tax on these products still remain in place. However, for women who buy their sanitary products in Denver, this will save them an estimated $200 a year. Currently, 15 states in the US have already made menstrual products exempt from sales tax.

Source // giphy.com

Looking to the future, State Representative Leslie Herod is hoping to reintroduce the failed 2017 bill to eliminate these taxes statewide. However, she says it may have to wait until next year due to projected revenue losses and the state’s efforts in “trying to pay for full-day kindergarten and other major priorities.” In the meantime, she and Rep. Faith Winter are pursuing legislation that would require local jails to provide sanitary products to inmates without charge. Currently, only state prisons are required to provide these products to their inmates.

Overall, this is a major win for the city of Denver in acknowledging that women’s periods are not a luxury and hopefully this will allow these products to become a bit more accessible for those who have a hard time affording these very necessary products. Denver politicians chalk the passing of this bill up to common sense and I think we all hope to see the tax completely eliminated in the future.

Source // giphy.com

In the words of Denver City Council President Clarke, “You're a shmuck if you don't do this.”

The bill will take effect beginning July 1st, 2019.