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Washington D.C. lifts tax on tampons

By Breonnah Colon - COPY EDITOR
On December 5, 2016

Photo taken from Fiona Ma on

PERIOD PAY LIFT Pressure from protests, like the one above that took place in early April 2016, has led Washington, D.C. to exempt taxes on menstrual hygiene products, including tampons.

Most working class individuals would agree that taxes suck. You go shopping, set a budget, find something that you simultaneously like and can afford. You feel proud that you’ve been able to meet both your personal wants and financial capability only to bring the item up to the register and be charged a tax inconveniently and heartbreakingly puts that item just out of reach of your price range. 

That situation is saddening when there’s something you very deeply want, but simply cannot afford because you don’t have the extra $2.75 to alleviate the tax. What a bummer.

 Now imagine that same situation with something that you need. Like food; you need a burger, but you can’t afford it. You could just opt for something cheaper, maybe just an order of fries or you could go home and make a burger. Problem solved.

 However, things are not that simple when you need menstrual hygiene products. Being on your menstrual cycle is just as out of your control as being hungry. We need our hygiene products just as much as we need food in order to stay happy and healthy. So when there’s a tax we can’t afford, we’re faced with a very dire situation.

Things aren’t as helpless as they may seem though, ladies and gentlemen. There are several states that recognize how this may be an issue and are working on helping to eliminate them. An article published by The Washington Post, “D.C. to lift sales tax on diapers, tampons” announced that Washington, D.C. is the latest of at least six states in the country to eliminate taxes on menstrual hygiene products. 

The article stated, “A spokeswoman for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Wednesday she’ll sign legislation that supporters say ends a 5.75 percent tax that hurts women and hits working families the hardest.”

As a result of the tax cut, the state will need to find a way to account for the $3 million that will be lost. Think about that $3 million a year in taxes solely based off hygiene products as well as diapers. It’s almost inconceivable to think of so much money being charged on top of the original cost of the products themselves. 

It’s this amount of money in taxes that cause may people to view the taxes on menstrual hygiene products to be a tax on people who menstruate especially when sexual enhancement products such as Viagra are tax exempt since they are considered a product of medical necessity. Can you blame them?

Seeing as such a huge amount of money will need to be accounted for, it will take at least a year of continuous taxes on these products to find a way to pay for the tax cuts. However, those who passed the bill into legislation think it’s worth it.

Anita Bonds, a member of the council which passed the bill said, “Women, babies, and persons with disabilities who need these products should not be taxed for natural bodily functions,” the article explains.

For those who menstruate who do not live in Washington, D.C., there are other states that also have tax exemptions on feminine hygiene products. New York state is one of them. According to, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill earlier this year. Other states include Maryland, Massachusetts Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The bill alters an already existing law and will add a clause which will include feminine hygiene products to the list of exemptions. The bill explains the justification of the alteration through its online publication on explaining, “It is an oversight to exclude other products which are intended to promote the health of citizens from a sales and use tax while at the same time imposing a tax on menstrual hygiene products, a basic necessity, and this bill would correct that.”

It may not be a federal law yet, but it’s definitely a start.

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