Lawson: Stop taxing tampons


Shopping for tampon

Angelica Lawson

Women have been paying taxes on feminine hygiene products for far too long. Tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products should be tax exempt. Tampons are not a choice but a necessity for life. Most medical expenses are not taxed or tax deductible, though the law varies item to item. However, feminine hygiene products are subject to sales tax in 40 states. 

It’s ludicrous that the involuntary experience of menstruation is being taxed, even in the luxury tax bracket in some states. 

What’s even worse is that Alabama has a “Holiday tax,” when specific items are tax-free during holidays. But do you know what is still taxed during holiday tax times? Tampons. 

It’s an injustice to women all across the United States to be taxed for something that is completely out of their control. This is a already taboo subject. It seems that women are supposed to hide in the corner and not discuss this dreaded week of the month when the impossible happens and they bleed continuously for days without dying. This is certainly not a luxury; frankly, it’s an inconvenience.

As college students, paying taxes on something that should be free can be crippling. As a population, we are already on strict budgets, and every penny makes a difference. Women in California spend an average of $7 per month on feminine hygiene products. Multiply that number by 40 — the average number of years of menstruation — and the average price a woman pays for feminine hygiene products is $3360. That is $84 spent annually on products that should be free.

People can now get condoms for free, and more forms of female birth control are decreasing in price. It seems like a natural progression that tampons should be made tax free. Condoms are free for students on campus and can be found in baskets in offices and bathrooms, making the subject less taboo.

The anti-tampon tax campaign in California has gained great momentum because the idea of having to be taxed for something for such a dreadful time of the month is not right. The California tax board has endorsed a proposed measure that would end taxing tampons and other menstruation products as a luxury. The bill was introduced by two members of the Board of Equalization, Cristina Garcia and Ling Ling Chang, and would prevent tampons and other products from being taxed.

Ending the tax on tampons and other menstruation necessities eliminates gender bias and works toward social reform.

These laws must be updated because they are laws that only woman can truly identify as being an injustice. Our dear President Barack Obama agrees that women should not have to pay a tax on such items. In an interview with YouTube personality Ingrid Nilsen, he agreed that women living in states that have tampon taxes and taxes on other menstruation products should fight for the removal of their taxation.

Canada and France have already removed this tax for their citizens, and the United States should be willing to do the same. Cosmopolitan is circulating a petition to “end the taxing of periods” in its rhetoric. Several protests have been conducted by activists, and no end seems to be in sight.

Protests of free bleeding are happening in Europe. In August, Kiran Gandhi ran the London Marathon without a tampon to bring awareness to the fact that not all women have access to feminine hygiene products and that taxing them makes them less available for all women who need them.

Gandhi took photos in her period-stained clothes and brought much-needed awareness to what periods look like. They happen to women every day and should not be ignored.

Removing the tax on these essential items is a necessary step to equalizing the sexes. By ending this unjust taxation, women in all facets can have equal access to hygiene products and will have less of a financial burden.

Iowa taxes tampons and other forms of menstruation essentials. The first step in changing this is making the issue known and making sure that your voice is heard. Start a petition and let our state know that women will no longer stand by and pay for this injustice.