Tackling The Tampon Tax
Candy, swimming pool admissions, souvenirs, and gun club memberships. What do these seemingly unrelated things have in common? They are all exempt from taxes. However, when that time of the month rolls around and you find yourself in need of menstrual hygiene products, you will find that in the eyes of most states, your products are not as essential as that Twix bar you were eyeing in the checkout line. This is not just infuriating, but it is a gender injustice that we, as menstruators, need to fight against.
First, it is important that we establish a basic understanding of what exactly the tampon tax is. Personally, I find the term can be slightly misleading at first glance. It does not solely refer to the taxing of tampons, rather is an umbrella term for the fact that menstrual hygiene products (tampons, pads, menstrual cups, etc.) are being taxed in several states as “luxury” goods. In other words, these products are not considered basic essentials like food, prescription medicine, and other items are. Therefore, they are taxed as “luxury” items.
Now that we have an understanding of what the tampon tax is, it is equally important to create dialogue surrounding how it is affecting menstruators. One way to go about this is by starting a conversation about the tampon tax. Invite others to share their experiences and ask them how it makes them feel. Conversation is hugely important in building the bridge between where we are today with the tampon tax and a future of gender equality. We also need to understand that the tampon tax affects different demographics in different ways. It disproportionately affects womxn of low socioeconomic status because when their period comes, they may find themselves encountering difficulty in figuring out not only how they are going to pay for these products, but also how they will afford the unjust tax imposed on them in a majority of states.
In the last decade, womxn have made tremendous progress in fighting the tampon tax by raising their voices against this injustice that essentially charges them for being womxn and having a biological function that is beyond their control; one that should be celebrated––not punished. Several organizations such as Period Equity (a group of lawyers that fight to terminate the tampon tax) and Tax Free. Period are organizing campaigns, protests, and boycotts against the tampon tax. In fact, these leading corporations are responsible for organizing the largest sales tax protest in modern history.
While these efforts certainly do not go unnoticed, it is evident that there is still much room for improvement. As of today, 33 states still have the tampon tax. To fight this gender injustice, you can join the boycotts being organized by the organizations above, create dialogue to raise awareness for the tampon tax and its negative effects, and communicate with your state representatives about the need to repeal it.
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