Viagra isn’t taxed, so why should necessary hygiene products be?
Currently over 40 states have a tampon tax, an extra tax on menstrual products like sanitary pads and tampons. While tampon taxes have been the norm, more and more, everyone from influencers (think: Ingrid Nilsen) to legislators are questioning, pushing and trying to do away with the tax.
For instance, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Massachusetts, a mix of advocacy groups and legislators helped to successfully do away with the tax. Other states, like California, have a long way to go.
In January 2016, California state representatives Christina Garcia and Ling Ling Chang introduced a bill to eliminate the luxury tax on menstrual products. The bill garnered unanimous support and, somehow, was still vetoed by California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, in September.
Over six months later, the same Assemblywomen are reigniting the fight against the tampon tax.
According to the Washington Post, Garcia stated in an official statement on Thursday, March 9: “Common sense is that liquor is a choice and a luxury and human biology is not. There is no happy hour for menstruation. Our tax code needs to reflect the fact that it’s not okay to tax women for being born women. No one can claim liquor is a basic necessity of life. It’s basics before booze and ladies over liquor.”
The new bill, called Common Cents Tax Reform Act, imposes a $1.20 increase in excise tax per gallon on hard liquors that are less than 100 proof or are less than 50 percent alcohol. This raises the current liquor tax from $3.30 per gallon to $4.50. The tax equals less than a penny and a half per drink serving, so many consumers won’t even notice the increase in price.
If passed, bill would reduce state tax revenue by a total of $300 million.
Additionally, the “babies before booze” legislation also removes taxes from diapers, helping families save $100 per year by voiding the state’s 7.5 percent sales tax. In Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont diapers are currently tax exempt.
As a way to drive their point home even more, Garcia and colleague Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher brought working mothers and their children to the assembly floor during the introduction of the bill. Gonzalez Fletcher has been quite vocal about why diapers should be tax exempt, going as far as to say that “diapers should be in the same category as food, because they are both essential health products,” according to CBS Sacramento.
The legislation still has ways to go in California, but legislators take solace in the fact that they are not fighting alone.
More recently, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Wisconsin Assemblywoman Melissa Sargent proposed a similar measure to repeal sales tax on menstrual products.
“There is no other example of a product where men are taxed for something women are not taxed for,” the Democrat from Madison emphasizes. “In this case, women are being penalized simply on the basis of being a woman. It’s not a choice to be a person who menstruates.”
The state’s sales tax is lower than California at 5.6 percent, but can save the menstruation consumer woman $3.92 to $6.72 per year on average. Those who menstruate spend $70 to $120 annually on hygiene products.