Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tampon Tax

Madison Sterling
AP Economics
Mrs. Straub
11/04/17

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.

Works Cited

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/

11 comments:

  1. I agree with this argument; the prices even without taxes are ridiculous and they are a necessity for all women. Some women cannot afford to consistently purchase these products, simply because they need to purchase food, gas (etc) instead. In addition to the insane price tag on these products, there is also the tax that you wrote about. This is just another financial burden on top of that initial price. Some women may not have to worry about this tax, but it does actually affect some people. People need to have access to same feminine hygiene and this can be difficult if the tax and price itself are so high.

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  2. I've heard this topic discussed numerous of times and I completely agree on the fact that women's hygiene products should not be taxed. This is because women cannot help the fact that this cycle happens once a month and should be granted with the necessities they need without having to spend extra money that is unfair and unnecessary. The women who live in the states where tax isn't imposed on feminine hygiene products is a more calm atmosphere without the dilemma of the less fortunate women unable to purchase those products. Most women should not have a problem with the tax imposed on these feminine products but to make it fair all around to every woman, the tax should be taken off.

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  3. Considering this issue has been around for a while, it is surprising to me that more states have not gotten rid of the tax. I do agree that there shouldn't be tax on these specific sanitary products, however only because they are a necessity. If they were not a necessity I would understand why there is a tax. Reading that 17% of women worldwide miss school or work because of this is an extreme issue, that could be fixed rather easily. While I know that taxes are a part of the economic world, in this situation I believe that there should not be a tax on feminine products.

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  4. I completely agree that women's hygiene products should not be taxed as we have no control over it, and well as the lack of equality in men's products being taxed. Many other items and goods could be taxed in replace of this ridiculous tax on feminine care products. While taxes are important for our economy, we can find better ways to implement taxes such as food and other material goods, to compensate for the unfair tax against women.

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  5. I agree that women's hygiene products shouldn't be taxed because women can't help that they have to with it. Women shouldn't have to pay a tax on something that they can't prevent and have to deal with each month.

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  6. I think this is a really interesting topic that needs to be discussed. I totally agree that females should not be taxed for a product they need. I'd be curious to know what other hygiene products are taxed for women. I know that a lot of similar items, like deodorant and razors, are more expensive for women than men, and I wonder if the prices will ever even out over time. (Kat Van Hulle)

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  7. Good argument, I agree. Necessary products shouldn't be luxury products. They should be bracketed with the other necessities. I think more people, women and men, should protest this injustice and petition congress to remove the tax on these products. I believe a certain reason this tax still exists is that there is, among men, a certain unjust social stigma about talking about women's feminine products. But times are changing and I believe this taxation will change as the stigma is realized as illogical and disappears.

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  8. I agree, I think it is unfair that there is a tax on items that are necessities since women can't control it. People seem to think these are "luxury items" which is why they are still being taxed. Over time I think people will realize that the taxation is unfair and it will be stopped.

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  9. When I first saw the title of this post I did a double take. Although not often discussed, it is an important topic and you wrote a very valid argument. As Kat said, it will be interesting to see if men and women hygiene products will eventually have equal prices in the future.

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  10. You have a great argument, with totally valid points. They should not be considered luxury items because obviously they are needed for uncontrollable circumstances. Hopefully, it will come to their attention the unfairness of it, and it will be changed. It's completely illogical and causes strain on all the women that need them.

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