Tampons not a “Luxury”– State Should Repeal Tax
January 27, 2017
Filed under Opinions
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According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a necessity is defined as something of an inevitable nature, or something that is logically unavoidable (merriam-webster.com). Food and medical supplies fall into this category, and so they are exempt from the federal sales tax for “luxurious items.” However, in the majority of the states, tampons and sanitary napkins are considered “luxury items,” which therefore allows the state to tax these items based on that state’s sales tax. Menstruating is not a luxury. In actuality, pretty much all women would be overjoyed if they didn’t have to deal with their periods once a month. We at The Commander strongly believe that it is unfair to tax items that are a necessity to a woman’s hygiene.
According to National Public Radio, the average woman menstruates between the ages of 12 and 50, which is approximately 450 periods. About 70 percent of women use tampons, which cost roughly 7 dollars for a box of 36 (npr.org). According to Jezebel magazine, a woman goes through more than 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime (jezebel.com). This means she spends about 2,138 extra “luxury” dollars in her lifetime on a product that she needs to remain hygienic. Menstruating each month is not a choice for any woman. So why should they be taxed for something that occurs which is out of their control? According to The Washington Post, only a few states do not tax these products, including Maryland and New Jersey (washingtonpost.com). No government should be allowed to tax items that are a necessity.
To make matters worse, women in California almost had the chance to buy menstrual products without a tax, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. According to The Washington Post, he stated that “…the state’s finances were ‘precariously balanced’ and that lawmakers should have brought the measure up during budget deliberations.” To refute the governor, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia criticized the move, saying Brown was “propping up the state budget on the backs of women.” She added, “Men purchase Viagra and they don’t get taxed” (washingtonpost.com). It is a form of gender discrimination to tax products necessary for women, but not tax a drug that gives men erections (beneficial, sure, but necessary?). Furthermore, it was a man who vetoed the bill, a man who does not understand the inconvenience and pain experienced due to monthly menstrual cycles.
Additionally, for women living in poverty, the cost of tampons and pads creates an even larger burden. If you are already struggling to afford food, water, and medical supplies, you don’t need to pay extra for sanitary supplies. Furthermore, according to The New York Times, while women can receive food stamps to help pay for their meals, there is no such help for feminine products (nytimes.com). While it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, for women with low incomes, paying seven to ten dollars each month takes its toll. According to the Tax Foundation website, the average sales tax is approximately six percent (taxfoundation.org). Every penny that could be saved without the tax, could help care for families, either buying food or paying the bills.
It is unfair for women across the nation to spend additional money for a product that is necessary for their health and well-being. It just proves that gender discrimination still exists in today’s world and that something needs to be done about it.