POLITICS

The Fight Against The Tampon Tax Gets New Life In California

A pair of bills would end the tax on menstrual products and make them free at schools and shelters.

A California lawmaker is attempting again to repeal the state’s sales tax on menstrual products after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill earlier this year. 

Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D) on Monday introduced two bills that would ease the financial burden placed on women. The first, AB 9, would make tampons, pads and similar products exempt from sales tax. The second measure, AB 10, would make those products available for free in public and private schools, including colleges, and shelters.  

Garcia argued that the bills would create greater equity in the tax code and expand access to a basic necessity for lower-income women. 

“Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are still being taxed for being born women. Every month of our adult life we are taxed for our biology. Every month we are told our periods are a luxury, while also being told they are something to be ashamed and we must hide,” Garcia said in a statement. “It’s not enough to make these products more affordable, we have to make them free to the women and girls who struggle to get access to these products.”

Garcia, who represents a district in Los Angeles County, sponsored a similar bill in the prior legislative session. While it received unanimous support in both chambers of the California legislature as well as the backing of the state’s tax board, Brown vetoed the bill due to budget concerns.

Those same budget constraints still exist. California women are taxed $20 million annually on these products, according to an estimate from Garcia’s office, so the state would have some serious revenue to make up elsewhere.

But national momentum could help push the bill forward. Several other states, including New York and Illinois, have eliminated or are considering eliminating their tampon taxes. Meanwhile, a complaint filed in California Superior Court argues that the tax violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. 

“This is about gender equity and social justice,” Garcia said. 

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