California Senate Votes to Dump Tampon Tax

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California moved closer to trashing the state’s “tampon tax” Thursday as lawmakers unanimously approved a bill banning the taxation of feminine hygiene products.
     The bipartisan bill aims to save California women an estimated $20 million per year in taxes and now heads back to the state Assembly for final approval before landing on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk next month.
     Supporters of Assembly Bill 1561 contend that feminine hygiene products are medical necessities and therefore shouldn’t be taxed, as many other medical products are not. Eliminating sales taxes on the hygiene items will also benefit low-income families where women sometimes struggle to budget for the products on a monthly basis, proponents say.
     The bill is also about bringing gender equality to the state’s tax code, said AB 1561 co-author Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens.
     “Fundamentally this is about gender equity and leveling the field,” Garcia said in a statement. “Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are taxed for being born women. Every month of our adult life we are taxed for our biology.”
     California and 38 other states do not classify feminine hygiene products as medical necessities, and the items have been taxed for decades. On the other hand, the Golden State’s tax code exempts prescription medication for conditions like erectile dysfunction and items like walkers and medical identification tags.
     According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, sanitary protection sales totaled more than $3 billion nationwide in 2015 with state sales tax rates ranging from 2.9 to 7.5 percent. Local government sales tax rates can vary as well, such as Chicago’s recently raised 10.25 percent tax rate.
     Several states have dropped their tampon taxes, including Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and most recently New York.
     New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the tampon tax bill following a lawsuit filed by actress Margo Seibert. The lawsuit described the tax as a “vestige of another era” and Seibert called the bill’s passage a victory on behalf of all “menstruators.”
     A similar proposal was rejected this year in Utah, and a bill lowering — but not eliminating — the tax on feminine hygiene products was also defeated in Tennessee.
     California’s proposal has gained widespread support despite its projected $20 million yearly loss in tax revenues. The California State Board of Equalization is backing the bill along with groups such as Planned Parenthood, American Academy of Pediatrics and Physicians for Reproductive Health.

%d bloggers like this: