New York Flushes Luxury Tax on Tampons

     MANHATTAN (CN) — As women across the nation reject the labeling of feminine hygiene products as “luxury items,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deposited his state’s tampon tax in the dustbin of history on Thursday.
     “This is a regressive tax on essential products that women have had to pay for far too long and lifting it is a matter of social and economic justice,” Cuomo said in a statement.
     Roughly five months ago, five women sued the state over the levy, and the lead lawyer on that case suggested in a phone interview that the court case played a role in the governor’s action.
     “It lit a fire in Albany to get something done,” said attorney Ilann Maazel, a partner at the civil rights firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.
     At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, New York was among 40 states that had a tampon tax, and none of them had been challenged before in court.
     At least three of the remaining 39 states — California, Florida, and Ohio — now face similar lawsuits, and Maazel believes that his clients’ “groundbreaking” case started a domino effect that will knock down other taxes.
     “I think it’s the beginning of the end of the tampon tax in this country, which would be a good thing,” the attorney said.
     Instituted in 1965, the New York tax had been described in the lawsuit as a “vestige of another era,” treating men’s products like Rogaine, foot powder, dandruff shampoo and lip balm as medical items and feminine hygiene products as luxuries.
     Cuomo said that eliminating the sales tax will save women an estimated $10 million a year.
     In a statement, the lead plaintiff of the New York case — actress and singer Margo Seibert — declared victory on behalf of all “menstruators.”
     “It’s about time we all recognize the necessity of menstruation products and the obsolescence of their taxation,” Seibert, who originated the role of Adrian in Broadway’s musical adaptation of “Rocky,” said.
     Her co-plaintiffs included a mathematician, photographer, professor and a coordinator for children’s program.
     Maazel, their attorney, said that his firm is considering similar lawsuits elsewhere.

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