Last Thursday, Margo Seibert, Jennifer Moore, Catherine O’Neil, Natalie Brasington, and Taja-Nia Henderson filed a lawsuit against New York’s tax department and its commissioner, Jerry Boone. The group of women are hoping to repeal the state’s 4% “luxury tax” on tampons.
With the average woman spending about $70 a year on tampons, which earns the state roughly $14 million a year in taxes, the tampon tax is definitely a big deal.
The group’s lawsuit points to guidelines published by the taxation department in 1998 and 2014 that categorize pads and tampons as “general merchandise,” as opposed to “medical items,” which would make them tax exempt. The document also highlights other items which are not taxed,
For example, the Department considers Rogaine, foot powder, dandruff shampoo, chapstick, facial wash, adult diapers, and incontinence pads to be medical items. These products are not taxed. But medical items used only by women—tampons and sanitary pads—are taxed. Tampons and sanitary pads are far more necessary to the preservation of health than Rogaine, dandruff shampoo, or many other products the Department considers medically exempt. The Department’s double standard for men and women finds no support in the tax law and serves no purpose other than to discriminate.
If the repeal goes into effect, New York would become the sixth state to end the luxury tax on pads and tampons, joining Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey. As of now, a whopping 40 states impose a luxury tax on pads and tampons; 5 states don’t charge sales tax for any retail purchases.
While Boone has not commented on the situation, a spokesman for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CBS News that he supports repealing the tax.
Similar bills have also been proposed in California, Utah and Virginia.