Time to axe the tampon tax

By Olivia Sullivan - Staff Reporter

Washington state deems the following as luxury items: brand new cars, an Apple watch, and feminine hygiene products.

Which one is not like the others?

In our state, feminine hygiene products are considered non-essential and are subject to sales tax. 

Senate Bill 5093 was proposed earlier in the fall to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. The purpose of this tax exemption is to make basic necessities more accessible to all people.

The amount of sales tax across the United States ranges from 4.35 percent in Hawaii to 9.46 percent in Tennessee. Washington state's sales tax one of the highest at 8.92 percent.

This means that women pay anywhere from 60 to 90 cents more for every purchase of feminine hygiene products. 

A few states that have already axed the tampon tax include New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. 

Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not have a sales tax, and therefore do not tax feminine hygiene products

It is now Washington's turn to eliminate the unfair tax.

Although the products are deemed luxurious, it sure doesn't feel that way when I buy a box of tampons. 

Talk to any woman who has gone through puberty, and we can tell you first-hand stories about how these items are absolutely essential during "that time of the month." 

A woman does not get to choose if she gets her period. While taking some forms of birth control can lessen the frequency of a woman's menstrual cycle, it still inevitably happens.

The conversation about  feminine hygiene needs is often hushed due to the social stigma surrounding the topic.

Women are discouraged from talking about the blood or the cramps or the products because people say it is a gross topic. The reality of  a woman's daily life is shamed.

It is not gross to talk about. It is life.

Washington state does exempt items such as groceries and medical products from the sales tax, but tampons or pads do not fall into that category. 

With the tax exemption, state revenue may decrease by $4.5 million this year, and decrease local revenue by $1.8 million in the following fiscal year of 2018. 

To the average student, these numbers seem outrageously expensive. But in a state budget of more than $93.5 billion, it is mere pocket change. 

In fact, the removal of sales tax from feminine hygiene products will have an impact of less than 1 percent on the state budget.  

The money women save from the exemption will stay in their own pockets, rather than paying extra for a biological function.

With any political issue, especially one that affects more than half of the state's population, you have the option to contact your representatives directly and voice your opinion.

You can submit public comments at app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill/5093 or give your legislators a phone call at 360-786-7573. 

After all, it is time to axe the tampon tax.

Olivia Sullivan is the opinion editor of the Thunderword. 

Time to axe the tampon tax

Washington state deems the following as luxury items: brand new cars, an Apple watch, and feminine hygeiene products.

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