State Sales Tax Practices Prompt Tampon Tax Advocacy

Julie Houth
The tampon tax is the sales tax most states impose on tampons, pads, and other menstrual products.

The tampon tax is the sales tax most states impose on tampons, pads, and other menstrual products.

Deagreez via GettyImages

I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these . . . I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.

—President Barack Obama

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Although this was a big step toward equality, the fight continues with the tampon tax movement. The tampon tax, also called the pink tax, is a catchy term for the sales tax most states impose on tampons, pads, and other menstrual products. These products are considered nonessential goods. In contrast, products considered a necessity, such as food and medicine, are exempt from state sales tax. Which products constitute a necessity varies across the states. In some states, you can purchase bingo supplies, cotton candy, erectile dysfunction pills, gun club memberships, and tattoos sales-tax-free because of necessity exemptions. Wondering why these items fall under necessity exemptions and menstrual products do not? You are not alone. In January 2016, President Barack Obama spoke out to support eliminating the tampon tax saying, “I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these . . . I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”

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