California State Board Pushes Back Against Tampon Tax

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

The California State Board of Equalization endorsed a measure that would exempt feminine hygiene products from the state’s sales tax Tuesday in an attempt to “bring more gender equity to California’s tax code.”

Supporters of the bill said since products like medical identification tags, walkers and prescription drugs like Viagra are exempt – tampons and sanitary napkins should be as well.

“Menstrual products are a basic necessity. When we call tampons or pads ‘feminine hygiene’ products it makes us forget that these are actually necessary health items that women use on a monthly basis,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a co-author on the legislation, said in a statement.

The board members argued that with nearly 4.6 million people living in poverty in the Golden State – if they can’t make the products free – they need to make them affordable for those who are struggling financially.

“Collectively we pay $20 million in taxes on feminine hygiene products,” said Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang said in the statement. “By putting that money back in the hands of women, we are creating greater access to a very important health product – especially in low-income and homeless populations.”

The issue isn’t exclusive to California, sales tax on the products has gained national attention due to a motion on Change.org.

The petition, started by Cosmopolitan magazine and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, the vice president for Development at the Brennan Center for Justice, has received over 43,000 signatures thus far. 

In a letter written to state legislatures, Cosmo and Weiss-Wolf called the tax “discriminitory”and called other states need to follow in the footsteps of Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

“As anyone who menstruates knows, dealing with a period is a monthly necessity—and a costly one at that,” they wrote. “Women already spend upwards of $70 a year on sanitary products like tampons, pads, and menstrual cups.”

Currently 40 states in the U.S. place a sales tax on the products.

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