Friday, 9 November 2018

Goodbye, Tampon Tax (at Least for Some)

Goodbye, Tampon Tax  

 “When you say you’re for ‘menstrual equity,’ it means you’re for educational equity; it means you’re for workplace equity; it means you’re for health equity.”

— Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of the 2017 book “Periods Gone Public” Tampons and pads are necessary items that half the population must acquire a dozen times a year for about 40 years of their lives.

They're not optional — some extent that U.S. legislators are, evidently, starting to recognize.

On Tuesday, Nevada joined nine states — including NY, Florida, and Illinois — to eliminate the so-called tampon tax, freeing consumers of a 6.85 percent nuisance tax once they buy tampons and sanitary pads.

Most hygiene items are taxed under state laws (deodorant and soap, for instance ), but, unlike these things, tampons are considered medically necessary.

The outcome was a victory for proponents of “menstrual equity,” a phrase created by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and a movement that aims to eliminate the tampon tax and make menstrual products available to in-need populations: students and people in correctional facilities and people in shelters.

Kenya was the primary nation to prevent taxing menstrual products, in 2004, partially because many Kenyan girls and ladies cannot afford these products.

Canada dropped the tax in 2015, and Malaysia, India, and Australia followed suit this year.

In we, food and prescription medication aren't taxed, because they're deemed “necessary.”

And yet, as Ms. Weiss-Wolf — who works with lawmakers to introduce legislation and policies to support menstrual equity — questioned once I spoke to her by phone: Are items like Viagra, Pop-Tarts, and Rogaine really “necessities”?

Leaders from some states, like Utah, have shot down efforts to eliminate the tampon tax on grounds that they don’t want to select and choose what's tax-exempt.

But Utah has granted this status to arcade-game tokens, for example, while other states have carved out exemptions for items like cowboy boots (Texas), gun club memberships (Wisconsin), and chain saws (Idaho).

Women have come to simply accept that each aspect of our periods is “our own secret problem and that we are making people uncomfortable if we raise it,” Ms. Weiss Wolf said.

But the reality is, she continued, raising the difficulty of menstrual equity “hasn’t made legislators very uncomfortable in the least .”

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