13 States No Longer Tax Feminine Hygiene Products and 15 More are Debating Doing Away With Their “Tampon Tax”
One of the more puzzling taxes that states impose on its citizens involves the collection of sales tax on feminine items such as tampons and sanitary napkins. In essence, they are a necessity for women that men do not require.
Over the past couple of years, dozens of bills have been introduced in state legislatures that aim to do away with a tax that only affects women. There are hardly any other gender-specific taxes, and while tax revenues may dip slightly for state budgets, it’s an equality issue that over half of state governments are currently addressing.
13 states do not tax feminine care products (5 states have no state sales tax, 8 states have enacted legislation to eliminate the tax) and another 15 have a bill introduced in at least one legislative chamber to do the same thing.
States that have eliminated feminine product taxes – New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C.
States with no state sales tax – Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Montana, New Hampshire
States debating eliminating feminine product taxes – Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Washington, California, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Utah.
In numerical terms, about 4/5ths of the population of the U.S. lives in the above 27 states (and D.C.) and with tampon tax repeal laws carrying bipartisan support for the most part, it’s likely that we will see at least another dozen states added to the ones taking the tax off of their books.
Digging a little deeper, most estimates come out with an average total cost for feminine products, over the course of a woman’s lifetime, to around $2,300. This is a straight off the shelf number that doesn’t take into account transportation costs other associated expenses. Going with a 6.5% state sales tax, the average woman will end up paying their state government about $150 just for the privilege to keep clean on their periods.
It’s difficult to blame state lawmakers or treasurers for overlooking these taxes when they were first imposed. At a time when fruits and vegetables were taxed at nearly the same rate as consumer goods (decades ago), creating a tax carve-out for feminine products probably wasn’t on anybody’s mind. Today, it becomes much more difficult for lawmakers to look the other way when computers do all of our work for us when it comes to calculating taxes. The “tampon tax” has been recognized as being a problem and the technical challenges to fix it are virtually non-existent.
Within the next few years, we will probably see all but a few states put legislation on the books to eliminate the tampon tax. When it comes down to re-election, nobody wants to be the person on the receiving end of an attack ad claiming that they are in favor of women-only taxes. These bills almost all seem to have bipartisan support when very little else does these days.