Tampons and taxation: Some students believe feminine hygiene products should be exempt from taxes

On March 9, Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher introduced an act that would exempt feminine health items from sales taxes. Photo illustration by Laura Claypool

In California, items such as food and related products are exempt from sales taxes, but feminine hygiene products are not, according to the California State Board of Equalization. Some people at Chapman think these items should be.

On March 9, California State Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher introduced the Common Cents Tax Reform, which would exempt diapers and feminine health items from sales taxes, according to a press release from Garcia’s office.

“The tax on tampons is ridiculous,” said Cal Keeter, a sophomore political science major. “Around 50 percent of the population experiences this monthly bleeding and it definitely is not a luxury – it’s a medical necessity.”
On Chapman’s campus, tampons and pads cost 25 cents to purchase from the bathrooms.

“From a public health perspective, it makes a lot of sense,” Dean of Students Jerry Price said about providing free feminine hygiene products on campus. “I don’t know that we would do it, but I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t consider it if students brought it up.”

According to Merriam-Webster, a luxury tax is a tax “on the purchase of items that are not essential for support or maintenance.” Tampons and pads fall under this tax, but women’s studies and sociology professor C.K. Magliola said that being on your period is anything but a luxury.

“Women are being paid less and charged more for necessities,” Magliola said. “Even products that aren’t feminine hygiene products are charged more if they are marketed toward women.”

A report by the U.S. Joint Economic Committee found that women are paying more for the exact same products. For example, razors marketed for men cost about $5, while a razor marketed for women costs almost $8.

Brown University’s student government provides free feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms, according to a press release from the student government. Amanda Ball, a senior strategic and corporate communication major and the president of Chapman Feminists, said this is something she would want to implement on Chapman’s campus.

“I would love if Chapman students looked into that,” Ball said. “It’s something I want to see on this campus, and it’s as simple as making feminine products free.”

Shana Kheradyar, a junior sociology and television writing and production major, thinks that the Brown University program has the right idea.

“That would be a cool program to implement at Chapman,” Kheradyar said. “But I think the first step as a country is to just get rid of that tax. It just isn’t fair.”

A question Magliola had about the tax on tampons was what those tax dollars are being put toward.

“I want to know where that money is going and why I’m paying these taxes,” she said.

Sales taxes in California go to the state’s general fund, the local public safety fund to support local criminal justice activities, the local revenue fund to support local health and social services programs, county transportation funds and city or county operations, according to the California State Board of Equalization.

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