Women Aren’t The Only Ones With Periods, Here’s Why Tampon Taxes Are An Everyone Issue
In most states across the country, people with periods are charged a sales tax when they purchase menstruation products, but a new campaign aims at dismantling the lawful discriminatory practice.
On Tuesday, founders of LOLA, a natural hygiene brand, and of Period Equity, a law and policy organization fighting for menstrual equity, joined forces to launch Tax Free. Period., a national campaign calling for the end of the tampon tax. The name alludes to the tax states put on menstrual products throughout the country.
“Despite the fact that menstrual products are basic necessities for half the population, 35 states in the U.S. still institute a discriminatory tax on these products. Through LOLA’s partnership with Period Equity to launch Tax Free. Period., we are mobilizing legal action to end this unjust tax, taking crucial steps in the fight to achieve menstrual equity and continuing to work towards lifting the detrimental stigma against women’s health that still exists in this country,” the co-founder of LOLA Jordana Kier told Teen Vogue. “Our goal is to make the tampon tax a non-negotiable by making legal arguments that challenge its constitutionality.”
According to Fortune, 70 percent of US states charge a sales tax on these necessary products, which means that just 15 states don’t currently demand the extra sum. Of them, five have no sales tax at all — as in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — five have marked them as tax-exempt items — like in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — and five have removed their tampon taxes after advocacy against it — as in New York, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut and Nevada. Additionally, cities like Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C., also don’t tax menstrual products.
States have the liberty of making their own rules on what gets taxed, and many categorize menstrual products as a luxury item, meaning it’s not exempt in the way other necessities like food and prescriptions might be.
Several countries have already stopped taxing menstrual products because of its unjust economic burden on women. Kenya was the first to put an end to the practice in 2004, with Canada, Malaysia, India and Australia later following suit. In 2016, even President Barack Obama called on states to stop taxing menstrual products.
As a result of the tampon tax, people with periods spend an estimated $150 million a year on these imperative items, and the campaign wants the country to recognize that this is not only unfair but also outmoded.
“Challenging the tampon tax in the U.S. is about much more than lifting a simple financial burden. It is a way to call out laws that are archaic, unfair, and discriminatory,” the co-founder of Period Equity Jennifer Weiss-Wolf told Teen Vogue. “It helps us move toward a better model of economic parity and gender equity. And we believe it is a gateway for getting people to talk and think about the wider implications of menstruation — social, economic, and otherwise. It’s an issue that has already garnered support from both sides of the aisle and from people across the United States. And a chance to win real change for menstrual equity.”
Through Tax Free. Period., organizers will create an educational campaign, a hackathon and a legal action that aims to change the way the public and legislators think about the tampon tax. To help their mission, they’ve also brought on celebrity supporters like Serena Williams and Karlie Kloss.
“A tax on periods is wrong. Telling half of the population that their needs aren’t important is wrong,” Williams told the news outlet. “I’m proud to support LOLA and Period Equity, who have teamed up to launch Tax Free. Period. to help right these wrongs and finally end these unfair policies once and for all in the U.S.”