Four D.C. lawmakers say they will introduce a bill to exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers from the District’s sales tax, joining activists in liberal states from New York to California in pushing for a remedy to what they see as an unfair tax on women.
Most states have for decades taxed tampons and related products at the same rate as other household goods, but that is changing.
Five states have eliminated taxes for feminine hygiene products while seven have suspended taxes on diapers.
Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), the lead author of the bill in D.C., said in a statement that “women should not be taxed because they are women, nor should babies be taxed for being babies.”
Bonds has for the last year and a half been the chairman of the council committee studying affordable housing and other problems for low-income families. She said she had reached the conclusion that eliminating a “tampon tax” would help the city’s most vulnerable.
She also said it seemed unfair that the District taxes tampons while classifying other items including Viagra as essential and therefore exempt.
“This legislation will especially help low to moderate income mothers manage these costly expenses,” she said.
Council members Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Vincent C. Orange (D-At Large) are co-introducers of the legislation.
The statement from Bonds noted that the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy recently found that the poorest families pay state and local taxes at twice the effective rate of the richest families.
It’s time to “stop taxing your period,” she said.
The recent push to end the “tampon tax” began in January, when a pair of female legislators, one Democratic and one Republican, co-introduced a measure in the California Assembly to end the tax.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the Democrat, ventured that women in California pay about $7 per month for 40 years of tampons and sanitary napkins. Statewide, it adds up to “over $20 million annually in taxes,” she said.
“Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman [sic] and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax,” Garcia said. “You can’t just ignore your period. It’s not like you can just ignore the constant flow.”