January 25, 2017

When we founded Conscious Period, we were appalled to learn that 40 US states add sales tax to feminine hygiene products, while other medically necessary products (and some totally unnecessary products, like candy!) are tax-free.

This ‘tampon tax’ (sometimes referred to as a ‘luxury tax,’ which is a tax placed on products or services deemed to be ‘unnecessary’ or ‘non-essential’) is not an extra sales tax that has been specifically added to feminine hygiene products. Rather, every state can exempt certain products from sales tax. For example: candy is tax-free in California. Manicures and massages are tax-free in West Virginia. Rogaine (a hair loss product) is tax-free in Vermont and seven other states.

As you savvy readers know, a box of tampons or pads cost anywhere from $7-10 every month, and this added sales tax makes them even harder to afford, especially for low-income individuals. Plus, it’s incredibly insulting to be told that period products are ‘unnecessary’ when anyone who menstruates would say otherwise.  

Both Canada and Britain have eliminated their tampon tax, in 2015 and 2016 respectively. In the United States, these tax codes need to be changed state by state. 

When we teamed up with Ingrid Nilsen in December 2015 to make hygiene kits for women living in homelessness in San Francisco, she was shocked to learn about the tampon tax. One month later, Ingrid got the chance to interview President Obama. She asked him why these items continue to be taxed, to which President Obama astutely responded, “I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed. And I think it’s pretty sensible for women in those states that you just mentioned to work to get those taxes removed.”

And work we have.

At the start of 2016, 40 US states still had a tampon tax. Over the course of the year, 15 states introduced legislation to eliminate the tampon tax, and 3 states (New York, Connecticut, Illinois) were successful. Since the beginning of 2017, lawmakers in 6 states have announced plans to introduce legislation to end the tampon tax. 

If you want to help eliminate the tampon tax in your state, here’s what you can do:

  • Check the list below to see if your state currently taxes period products
  • If yes, contact your state representatives:
    1. Find out who your local and state elected representatives are
    2. Write them emails or letters to tell them why it’s important that they eliminate state sales tax on tampons and pads. Tell them that these products are essential in managing menstruation, and the added sales tax makes them even more cost-prohibitive, especially for your community’s lowest income residents. Suggest that they look at their tax codes to see if there are other products they can tax (like candy or soda) to make up the financial difference.
    3. Don't rest until legislation is signed and in effect! If you see legislation is pending in your state, it is still important and effective to reach out to your representatives. Thank the legislators who proposed and voted in favor of legislation. If the final step is the Governor's signature, write to your Governor and express why it's so important that the legislation is approved.
  • Sign the Change.org petition to US State Legislators to “Stop Taxing Our Periods!”
  • Share with your friends! Share this blog post, share the contact information of your local representatives, share the online petition with your family and friends to keep momentum going.

Does my state tax period products?

Alabama – taxes period products

Alaska – does not have state sales tax 

Arizona – introducing legislation in 2017

Arkansas – taxes period products

California – STILL TAXED. Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and other legislators have been working tirelessly to end the tampon tax in California. In 2016, the bill passed the state Congress, but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. 2 new pieces of legislation were introduced in 2017; only one (AB9) is still in consideration. 

Colorado – introducing legislation in 2017

Connecticut – passed legislation in 2016 to EXEMPT feminine hygiene products, along with diapers (in effect July 2018)  

Delaware – does not have state sales tax

District of Columbia – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from state sales tax (in effect October 2017)

Florida - State House & Senate passed legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax, beginning in January 2018. The bill now needs to be signed by Governor Rick Scott. 

Georgia – taxes period products

Hawaii – taxes period products

Idaho – taxes period products

Illinois – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from
state sales tax (in effect January 1, 2017) 

Indiana – taxes period products 

Iowa – taxes period products

Kansas – taxes period products

Kentucky – taxes period products

Louisiana - Introduced legislation in 2017, which died in the Senate Finance Committee. 

Maine - Introducing legislation in 2017

Maryland – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from
state sales tax

Massachusetts – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from state sales tax

Michigan – introducing legislation in 2017

Minnesota – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from state sales tax

Mississippi – taxes period products

Missouri – introducing legislation in 2017

Montana – does not have state sales tax

Nebraska – taxes period products 

Nevada - State Senate approved 2017 legislation to end state sales tax on feminine hygiene products. The issue will appear on the 2018 election ballot for vote. 

New Hampshire – does not have state sales tax

New Jersey – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from
state sales tax

New Mexico – taxes period products

New York – tampons, pads, panty liners, period underwear and other feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from state sales tax (in effect September 1, 2016)

North Carolina – taxes period products

North Dakota – taxes period products

Ohio – introducing legislation in 2017

Oklahoma – taxes period products

Oregon – does not have state sales tax

Pennsylvania – tampons, pads and similar feminine hygiene products are EXEMPT from
state sales tax

Rhode Island – taxes period products

South Carolina – taxes period products

South Dakota – taxes period products 

Tennessee – taxes period products

Texas – introducing legislation in 2017

Utah – STILL TAXED. Rep. Susan Duckworth introduced legislation to exempt period products from state sales tax, which was voted down by an all-male panel in February 2016. She re-introduced legislation in 2017, which was killed in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Vermont – introducing legislation in 2017

Virginia – introducing legislation in 2017

Washington – introducing legislation in 2017

West Virginia – taxes period products

Wisconsin – taxes period products

Wyoming – taxes period products