With all of the natural disasters and ample news stories, we can all too easily lose sight of the small events that are still happening within our community. Recently, women everywhere are realizing the absurdity of having taxes imposed on tampons and other feminine hygiene products. Considering women do not have any control over getting their periods, this taxation is unnecessary and unfair, especially as there are women who cannot afford the inelastic products and men’s products often go untaxed, making women’s total cost higher than men’s.
In the United States, feminine products are a $2 billion industry and the sales tax is eight cents on the dollar. This may not sound like a lot, but for those living in poverty, every penny counts (Weiss-Wolf). Because of the ridiculous prices for something that cannot be controlled, 17% of women worldwide miss school or work because they are unable to afford proper supplies. Not only do women have the opportunity cost of having to miss school or work, but not having the right resources can lead to infections in developing countries as well as high rates of cervical cancer, which has been reported frequently in India (Weiss-Wolf). Women here in the United States have also been reported to face similar risks because they can’t afford or access feminine hygiene products. Jessica Weiss Wolf also stated, “women have even been known to trade food stamps for tampons.” This just goes to show that women are not always losing only money for this transaction, but instead they are sacrificing other necessities as well for their health.
Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Jersey are the only 5 states to so far change the law by cancelling the tax for feminine hygiene products (Phelan). There are also another 5 states which don’t have a tax, but this is because they don’t have sales tax on any necessities or luxuries. This means that in the other 40 states American women must pay various taxes on something they cannot control. These products also have a constant supply and demand for women everywhere with competition within the industry. In 2015, Canada became the first country to eliminate the “tampon tax”, which cut the sales tax charged for tampons, sanitary napkins, and other feminine hygiene products (Hillin). According to Splinter News, necessities in the US that are not taxed include groceries, food stamp purchases, medical purchases (prescriptions, prosthetics, some over-the-counter drugs), clothes (in some states), and agriculture supplies, yet somehow feminine hygiene products are still considered an elastic, luxury product.
All in all, the taxation on sanitary products (a.k.a. the tampon tax) is unjust for women, and this unnecessary taxation should be abolished. Other countries and even a few states have realized that this tax is only harming the women who live there. It is time for the other states to realize this as well. The taxation should be eliminated so that women can stay happy and healthy, without worrying about an extra cost.
Hillin, Taryn. “These are the U.S. states that tax women for having periods.” Splinter, Splinternews.com, 3 June 2015, https://splinternews.com/these-are-the-u-s-states-that-tax-women-for-having-per-1793848102
Phelan, Jessica. “Tampon tax is real. Women everywhere pay their governments extra to have periods.” Public Radio International, 15 Aug. 2015, https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-15/tampon-tax-real-women-everywhere-pay-their-governments-extra-have-periods
Tribune News Services. “Tampon tax: Does being female in the U.S. carry unfair costs?” Chicagotribune.com, 21 Apr. 2016, www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-tampon-tax-20160309-story.html.
Weiss-Wolf, Jennifer. “America's Very Real Menstrual Crisis.” Time, Time, 11 Aug. 2015, http://time.com/3989966/america-menstrual-crisis/