There’s a movement happening all around the country to put an end to the tampon tax. The momentum is palpable.
Though it’s been occurring for years right under our uteruses, the world recently realized that period products were being taxed by the government as luxury items, not necessities. Menstruators have banned together to put a stop to it and drop a little perioducation.
A petition to end the tampon tax, as it’s come to be known, started by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and Cosmopolitan began circulating a few months ago and has received over 57,000 signatures from supporters to date.
The primary argument is that menstrual hygiene products are essential items and should not be taxed as an optional “luxury” as they are in 40 U.S. states. Not even President Obama realized tampons were a monthly “luxury.”
Lawmakers in several states have joined the cause, too. In Wisconsin, Rep. Melissa Sargent has sponsored a bill to end the tax in her state, citing gender bias.”Women’s health has been misunderstood and neglected throughout history,” Sargent told NPR. Lawmakers in other states like Illinois, Utah, Ohio, California, New York, and Connecticut have backed similar legislation.
NY has seen its own big push to end the tax (which also include other menstrual hygiene products, not just tampons). Earlier this month, five women—Margo Seibert, Jennifer Moore, Catherine O’Neil, Natalie Brasington and Taja-Nia Henderson—filed a class-action lawsuit against the state asking for an end to the 4 percent sales tax, citing menstrual/female discrimination. (For context, products like Rogaine and dandruff shampoo are not taxed.) The suit also includes a $28 million refund for New York menstruators who paid the tax over the last two years—that’s a $2.80 refund for each of the estimated 5 million menstruators who each spent an average of $70/year on period products.
Seibert, who runs NYC-based Racket, a great organization collecting and distributing period products to homeless women, told Cosmo: “Menstruation products are essential and it is time to acknowledge that access shouldn’t depend on who can afford them. We hope this case will encourage other states to tackle the issue. It’s time to talk periods.”
We agree. Whatever the suit outcome, the campaign to end the tampon tax has been growing and, thankfully, so has the conversation around periods. We only hope it continues and, as a site dedicated to period positivity, we’ll do our part to help make that happen.
We’re sincerely grateful for the efforts of all the women, disruptors, and lawmakers fighting for change and undoing the taboo. While the money issue is big, the tampon tax goes much deeper than that, and ending it can bring us that much closer to gender equality and a greater understanding of menstruation across the globe.
Canada has already done away with the tampon tax. Who will be next?
UPDATE #1: Chicago Votes To End City Tampon Tax