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Texas Progressives Move to Eliminate ‘Tampon Tax’ in 2017 Legislative Session

Tampon Tax Texas
Bills take aim at gender equity by eliminating unfair sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Five progressive champions in the Texas Legislature filed bills that would eliminate the “tampon tax,” the sales tax imposed on feminine hygiene products. In Texas, sales tax applies to pads, tampons, and other menstrual products because — rather than being considered necessities like medicine and food — they are considered “luxury” goods. This legislation represents a modest but significant step in leveling the economic playing field for Texas women.

HB 219 by State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), HB 162 by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), and SB 129 by State Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) would exempt feminine hygiene products from the state’s 6.25% sales tax year-round, while HB 55 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and HB 232 by Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) limit the exemption to the statewide back-to-school annual tax holiday.

"Women need these products regularly as part of our health and well-being. It's simply not right for the law to fail to recognize this fact. Why should the state of Texas treat tampons as a luxury item? It's simple. We should not." - Sen. Garcia

Earlier this year, President Obama addressed the tampon tax, acknowledging he had “no idea why states would tax these as luxury items” and saying “it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.” He also urged women “to work to get those taxes removed.”

According to a recent study, women pay more for everyday items 42% of the time, which, compounded with the already exorbitant wage gap, results in women unfairly losing hundreds or thousands of dollars over their lifetime. Sales tax on feminine hygiene products alone cost women an estimated $416.52 over their lifetimes.

If Texas were to pass one of these bills in the upcoming legislative session, we would join a handful of other states around the nation with tax-exempt feminine hygiene products. 

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