MANHATTAN (CN) - New York's tampon tax is a "vestigate of another era," five women claim in an equal-protection class action against the Empire State's tax authority.
Led by actress Margo Seibert, the complaint says New York's tampon tax is discriminatory because there is no tax on male health products like Rogaine, or health products that are not gender-specific, like dandruff shampoo, chapstick, facial wash, adult diapers and incontinence pads.
"Medical products exclusively for women are taxed," the complaint states. "Medical products also used by men are not."
Joined by fellow New Yorkers Jennifer Moore, Catherine O'Neil, Natalie Brasington, and Taja-Nia Henderson, the plaintiffs call the tampon tax "irrational."
"It is discrimination," the complaint continues. "It is wrong."
The women said they pay on average $70 a year on tampons and pads. Based on a 4 percent sales tax, that means 5 million women paying $70 a year pay about $14 million in taxes every year, according to the complaint.
That's less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the total annual state budget for the state of New York.
"This tax is burdensome for the women who have to pay it, particularly for women living in poverty or with a low income," the complaint states.
"Without access to tampons and sanitary pads, women are forced to use unsanitary and dirty rags - which can lead to infections and an increased risk of diseases such as cervical cancer - or have nothing at all to staunch the blood - which poses a risk to the health of women and the public," the plaintiffs continue.
Filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, the lawsuit is part of a movement in several states to eliminate the tampon tax.
Five states - Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts - have created tax exemptions for tampons. Five other states have no sales taxes, which brings the total number of states where women can buy them without a tax up to 10. That means women in 40 states still pay tax on tampons and sanitary pads.
Meanwhile, New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal is looking to eliminate the tax. The idea has the support of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"We agree that sales tax on these products should be repealed and will work with the legislature to do so," Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said.
The plaintiffs are represented by Ilann Maazel of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff and Abady.
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