Tampons are not “luxury” items: Why this campaign says the period tax must end
[Photo: Josefin/Unsplash]

[Photo: Josefin/Unsplash]

Tampons are not “luxury” items: Why this campaign says the period tax must end

Melissa Locker

Some old white guy once said that the only two guarantees in life are death and taxes. That may be true for old white guys, but for a different segment of the population, the other guarantee is getting your period (probably while you’re wearing your favorite white pants). While not everyone woman gets a period, enough of them do that there is no good reason (other than The Patriarchy) that period products like tampons and pads should be taxed as non-essential items.

And yet, 35 U.S. states charge a sales tax on period products. Since sales tax is usually only levied on non-essential items like Big Mouth Billy Bass or Laz-E-Boy recliners and bitchin’ Camaros, that means that more than half of U.S. states don’t consider period-related products necessities. Half the population begs to differ.

A new campaign started today is working to change this inequity. Leading the charge are Lola, an all-natural period-product subscription service, and Period Equity, the lawyers who launched the original fight in the U.S. against the tampon tax in 2015 and successfully pressured New York State to remove it. The new campaign has one goal: Tax-free periods across the nation by Tax Day 2020.

Why the big to-do? Because the items that some states consider essential are, in fact, way less essential than period products—things like beef jerky and sunflower seeds and golf club memberships. For instance, North Dakota taxes tampons, but not food coloring; Oklahoma taxes tampons, but considers sun lamps a tax-free necessity; Texas doesn’t tax dandruff shampoo but does tax tampons. And California, usually a bastion of progressiveness, has a tax on tampons, but not on chocolate bars, even though they are both equally essential.

Meanwhile, women must bear the burden of not only paying for tampons and pads and Thinx and Diva cups, which all add up, but then they have to pay taxes on those products, too. Considering that, on the high-end, women are still paid only 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, this added financial burden makes life that much more expensive.

And we still have to deal with death and taxes. Join the fight here.