Stop Taxing Our Tampons!

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Erika Ackley, Managing Editor

Stop taxing our periods! Period.

Across the country, tampons and other menstrual-related products are subject to taxation. While some people consider them to be a consumer product just like any other, and therefore subject to sales tax, many women have begun to argue that taxing this women-only product is comparable to sexism and must be stopped  

According to USA Today, there are only five states– Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts–that do not tax tampons or other feminine products. That leaves a total of 45 states who refuse to see that menstrual products are a necessity for women.

As stated in tax codes, tampons are not “intended for use, internally or externally, in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of illnesses or diseases in human beings,” and therefore are not exempt from taxation.

However, in many states, items such as groceries, food stamps and medical prescriptions are labeled as “necessities” and are in fact exempt. “Tampons, however, are rarely considered a necessity by state governments, and most states do not allow exemptions for them,” said Fusion. “Feminine hygiene products are not a choice; they’re a required part of being a woman. And the costs for these products can add up.”

According to the Huffington Post, a woman, on average, menstruates up to 456 times over a span of 38 years in her lifetime. And with a box of 36 tampons costing around seven dollars, the cost of periods really adds up.

So let’s do the math.  

We change our tampons about every six hours, so one tampon every six hours = four tampons per day x five days of a period = 20 tampons per period x 456 periods = 9,120 tampons / 36 per box = 253.3 boxes of tampons x $7 =  about $1,773 worth of tampons in our lifetime.

And this is just the cost of tampons alone. If you factor in pads, new underwear, medication and more, the cost will just keep rising.

So if women pay more for both menstrual and other female products, men are getting taxed on their respective products too, right?

Sadly, that’s not the case.

Aside from the fact that all men’s products are cheaper, condoms aren’t taxed because they are considered a drug. And in some states, erectile dysfunction medication isn’t taxed either. But hey, at least birth control is tax-free right?

Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t look like California will be joining this fight any time soon.

On September 13, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have put a stop to the state’s taxes on menstrual products, even though it passed unanimously through the state legislature.

According to NPR, in California alone, our purchases for menstrual products add up to a tax revenue of about $20 million annually.

Brown, according to the Washington Post, claimed that “the state’s finances were ‘precariously balanced’ and that lawmakers should have brought the measure up during budget deliberations.”

Essentially, not taxing tampons would mean a loss in tax revenue, something Brown doesn’t want to lose given his $170 billion state budget.

Brown sidelining this could very well mean that he might push aside further issues regarding the equality of women in the future.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the driving force behind this bill, believes it ties into the overall goal of closing the wage gap between women and men.

In her own column, Garcia expands upon the reason she is so passionate about this bill. “We all care about the wellbeing of our women and girls…but California is still taxing them $20 million a year for the ‘privilege’ of purchasing unavoidable health products because of an outdated law,” says Garcia. “Most people agree this is not right, particularly when you consider other items that are actually tax exempt.”

So given that women are paid less and we pay more for our products, can we at least get our tampons tax-free?