OPINION: No Wonder We’re Cranky! “Period Tax” Unfair to Menstruating Women

From The Breeze

by Sam Murray, Callie Dalley, Kaitlyn O’Reilly and Izzy Banse

Feminine hygiene products have been taxed since 1973, making anyone with a period pay extra for their monthly necessities. Following a successful campaign in 2000, the tax was lowered considerably, but women still pay tax on tampons and pads. This is unfair and way too expensive. It’s ridiculous that something as simply necessary as tampons are taxed, while other items, like condoms, aren’t.

Low-income women in particular feel the effects of the tax. In Vermont, feminine hygiene products are taxed under the general sales tax, which is 6 percent. This is a regressive tax, so people with lower incomes have larger percentages of their income taken when they buy products. Tampons and other feminine products are necessities for anyone with a period, so it seems a little silly that they are taxed like this. Women with low incomes can’t help it when they get their period, and if they can’t afford the necessities they need, it is unhygienic and often costs them more money to clean themselves up and replace the clothes they’ve ruined. This whole concept is immoral and something should be done about it.

Many other states have passed laws repealing the tax, and there is wide agreement that the tax is unfair. We put out a survey in our school and discovered that more than half of the recipients knew about the tax, and almost 76.7 percent of them thought the tax was unreasonable. This general agreement of the public is even more of a reason to do something about it.

Women with their periods are paying taxes for these feminine hygiene products, even though there is no way they can help this from happening to them. These people cannot help the fact that they need feminine hygiene products to help their personal needs; and eliminating the tax would help the female population save money in the long run as well.  A woman in Vermont, can spend around $4.20 on the tax on feminine hygiene products, which added up over the course of a year, is a huge number. In total, all the women in Vermont can spend up to $989,100 a year on the tax of feminine products! This is only for those residents who have their period though, as according to the United States Census, the population of people who menstruate in Vermont is roughly 235,500. With that many people menstruating, a lot of money is being paid in taxes. All in all, there’s a ton of tax revenue in hand.

Although we may wish to remove the tax on feminine hygiene products, we have experienced many obstacles in trying to find a solution to this outrageous tax. The removal of this tax would cause a deficit of anywhere between $200,000 and $989,100 in the general fund. This would oust important funding from Human Services, the Vermont Teachers Retirement Fund and many other crucial funds. Another hurdle occurred when looking into expanding the availability of feminine hygiene products to low income women, in regards to programs like Reach Up , Medicaid, and food banks. We found that Medicaid does, in fact, provide a limited amount of funding for feminine hygiene products to those who require them. Reach Up only covers families, and the amount of products kept at a food bank is dependent upon donations. These complications left us with limited options.

Given the obstacles to removing the tax on feminine hygiene products, the best solution is for all food shelves to have a stock of feminine hygiene products. There are two ways this solution could be completed. The first way would be to raise awareness. Raising awareness has helped bring attention to diseases such as  Breast Cancer and ALS, so we think that raising awareness would help make this solution become the new way of doing things. With that in mind, donating feminine hygiene products to the food shelves would give people the products they need. Alternatively, the second way to fulfill this solution is to circulate a petition for a portion of the tax money generated from tampon sales to go to food banks. According to the State of Vermont, food shelves in Vermont are not supported with the state taxes which would help their organizations. This would benefit women because even if people do not donate, then the food shelves will always have a small chunk of money to help them keep a stock of feminine hygiene products. Raising awareness and having a petition for a portion of the tax money going to food banks, should occur because anyone who needs these products should have the ability to receive feminine hygiene products. Also, we can not choose to have our periods. They are natural and a part of life, and we should not be charged for them. Some states consider agriculture supplies as a necessity. That is outrageous because 40 states tax a natural cycle but don’t tax agriculture equipment? In conclusion, according to, “Time Magazine” more states tax tampons than candy in America, and that is not acceptable. We as human beings having our periods, should not be taxed, and if we are, then we should have an available place to receive the products we need.

(Note — the authors are Montpelier High School students. Their teacher is Heather McLane)

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