Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are considering a bill ending the District’s tax on tampons and diapers that proponents argue unfairly burdens female taxpayers.
Council member-at-large Anita Bonds introduced the legislation, following the lead of activists and lawmakers in states across the country, opposing what they say amounts to a gender tax. Lead by California and New York, five states have eliminated their longstanding tampon taxes, while an additional seven removed the tax on diapers. Historically tampons are faced with the same sales tax applied to household products by local governments, but changes to the law are occurring more frequently, reports The Washington Post.
“Women should not be taxed because they are women, nor should babies be taxed for being babies,” Council member Bonds said Monday. “This legislation will especially help low to moderate income mothers manage these costly expenses.”
Most states exempt any “items of necessity” from sales tax, but tampons diapers and other products needed for people on a daily basis are not classified that way. Bonds said the District needs to “stop taxing your period,” adding research shows removing the tax would alleviate a burden off the poorest in the city. The Council member argues individuals in affordable housing and poor families in general are disproportionately affected by the current sales tax, reports WUSA9.
Maryland recently rid the state of the tampon tax, as well as the sales tax on adult diapers. In the District, products such as Viagra are already considered essential and exempt from the tax. Proponent say if Viagra is viewed as necessary, tampons should be too.
“It’s a tax on women for being women,” Ilann Maazel, a lawyer representing five women said in the initial lawsuit against the tax in New York. “And that’s wrong. These are not luxury items, but a necessity for women’s health.”
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