The New York state senate has passed a bill that will do away with the 4 percent tampon tax in 2017. The bill came into being after five women sued the state of New York for required a tax on tampons as “luxury” items. As many women around the world would note, tampons and sanitary pads are anything but a luxury. They’re a necessity.
Maryland and New Jersey are the only states in the country that do not tax tampons and sanitary pads by deeming them as a medical necessity. Though it varies from state to state, other items like prescription drugs, lip balm, adult diapers and dandruff shampoo are also considered necessary medical items and are not taxed. So what makes tampons different from these “necessities”? The fact that only women use them.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has proposed a similar bill in California. Even in the considerably liberal state, Garcia is struggling to make ground with her proposal. She blames the stigma on periods and the reluctance for men in government to talk about the issue, even when it affects half of their constituents.
But the United States isn’t the only country dealing with the tampon tax. Women in Great Britain staged a tampon tax protest, and Canada only recently repealed their own tax after thousands signed an online petition.
An issue that should be a no brainer and an easy fix has become complicated by the reputation of periods and, as a result, of women as well. We’re told not to talk about our periods, to hide our tampons deep in the furrows of our purse, to be ashamed if it’s mentioned in public. To fix issues like this, we first have to fix our attitudes. Periods are natural and affect half the population, and shouldn’t be a taboo topic.