Listen, if we were given a choice, most of us would probably opt out of getting our periods for the majority of our lives. It can be painful, messy, and last but not least, expensive. Women spend upwards of $70 a year on products like tampons and pads.
Still, the essentials to deal with this mandatory bodily function are taxed. A whopping 40 states charge a sales tax on tampons and pads right now because they're considered "luxury items." (Meanwhile, a bag of chips, deemed "necessary," isn't taxed.)
But that number could soon be 39. On Monday, New York's Republican-led Senate unanimously passed a bill exempting feminine hygiene products from sales tax—reclassifying them as necessities—two months after the debate over the "tampon tax" arrived in Albany. The bill now goes to the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo, the father of three daughters, who has made assurances in the past that he would sign the bill into law.
“It is a way of providing some tax relief to women everywhere, young girls in particular,” senator Diane Savino said, according to Politico NY. “But on behalf of women of a certain age everywhere, I would love to offer a friendly amendment and ask for a rebate program, Senator Serino. But I know it would probably bankrupt the state,” she joked.
It's really looking like this could be the beginning of the end of the tampon tax in the U.S. (Fingers crossed!) Last October, Cosmopolitan spearheaded a national petition, Stop Taxing Our Periods! Period., calling out the states that tax menstrual products. It now has over 58,000 signatures, has ignited debate, and spurred legislators to act. Since the start of the 2016 state legislative sessions, bills to exempt tampons and pads from sales tax have either been introduced or resurrected in California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Chicago.
And just last month, five women filed a class action lawsuit against New York state over the tampon tax, pointing out that dandruff shampoo, Viagra, Rogaine, and lip balm are not taxed. In the suit, they wrote, "The tampon tax is irrational. It is discrimination. It is wrong."
We couldn't agree more, and we're glad that New York—Democrats and Republicans alike—are also on the same page.