It’s taboo in our society to talk about our periods. On top of that, in 40 states tampons are taxed as luxury goods. In July 2015, Canada became the first country to eliminate the tampon tax, and now there is momentum in the United States to do the same.
So what’s happening exactly? Tampons and other feminine hygiene products are not considered necessity items by state governments and are subject to sales tax. Items considered necessity items and exempt from sales tax include groceries, medical purchases (like prescriptions), and food stamp purchases. Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey have actively chosen not to tax tampons, and the five other states that don’t tax tampon purchases don’t have sales tax.
A measure was recently proposed in California to make feminine hygiene products exempt from sales tax in the state and classify tampons and other products as medical necessities. California currently collects $20 million annually from sales tax on tampons and other products and estimates that women spend an average of $7 per month for 40 years on these products.
Getting your period is not a choice and is a necessary part of life. This tax is not insignificant to women, especially poor women. Tampons are not a luxury, and hopefully more states follow in California’s footsteps.