Women everywhere are uniting over unfair tampon taxes. Canada is the first developed nation to stop taxing feminine hygiene products. Now, more and more activists from countries like the U.K., Australia and the U.S. are urging for their governments to follow suit.
Back in November, reports of British women protesting the EU’s new tax on feminine hygiene products were all over the news – and they did it in an ingenious, albeit gross, way. The British women publicly bled during their periods without any tampons or pads, while wearing light colored pants to “show how ‘luxury’ tampons really are.”
The UK places an additional tax on feminine hygiene products and women are charged an extra fee whenever buying tampons and maxi pads, on top of retail costs. That is because sanitary products are considered a “luxury item” by the British government, even though razors and adult diapers are not subject to the same tariffs.
The French parliament recently voted to cut the country’s tampon tax from 20 percent to 5.5 percent after voting twice on the issue. Now France is in line with the UK where the tax on feminine hygiene products is 5 percent.
In Australia, the government decided against lifting its 10 percent sales tax on sanitary products.
In the US, almost every state taxes feminine hygiene products. The only states that do not are Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts. While, Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Delaware and New Hampshire do not have sales tax. Otherwise, every other state imposes a tax on tampons.
Most states exempt “necessities”, or non-luxury items, from state sales tax. Items such as groceries, food stamp purchases, prescriptions, prosthetics, some over-the-counter drugs, clothes (in some states) and agriculture supplies are generally considered necessities.
Tampons and pads, nonetheless, are rarely categorized as a necessity by state governments. But every woman who has ever ridden the “crimson wave” can attest to just how crucial tampons and pads are – enough to even be a human right.
A change.org petition started by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and Cosmopolitan Magazine demand state legislators stop taxing women’s periods. The petition questions why a bag of potato chips is not taxed, but a box of tampons are.
The petition reads:
“Aunt Flo is one helluva house guest. She can be painful, messy, and just keeps coming back each month. And, oh yeah, expensive! As anyone who menstruates knows, dealing with a period is a monthly necessity—and a costly one at that. Women spend upwards of $70 a year on sanitary products like tampons and pads.
What’s worse, across the U.S., a whopping 40 states increase the financial burden of menstruation by charging sales tax on these essential items.”