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:
- Find out who your local and state elected representatives are
- 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.
- 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. Assembly member Cristina Garcia has 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. California legislators have vowed to keep fighting, and new legislation will be introduced in 2017.
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 – introducing legislation in 2017
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 – taxes period products
Maine – taxes period products
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 – taxes period products
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