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Dem lawmakers look to sink "Pink Tax" in Ohio

Bipartisan bill would remove $4 million in annual discriminatory economic barriers
February 15, 2017
Democratic Newsroom

In the midst of state operating budget discussions, State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Brigid Kelly (D-Columbus) today announced they are introducing bipartisan legislation, House Bill 61, to eliminate the $4 million yearly sales tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads. The lawmakers and a recent lawsuit contend the sales tax on essential women’s healthcare items, also known as the “Pink Tax,” disproportionately affects women who already face economic hurdles given Ohio’s gender-based wage gap.

“A tampon is a medical necessity for Ohio women— not a luxury item,” said Johnson. “In a state where women are paid less for the same work as men, every cent counts. The “Pink Tax” takes unfairly more money out of the pockets of women and undermines the economic stability of working families.”

With recent tax increases on tampons and other goods and services in Ohio, a woman will pay $632.50 in state taxes on tampons – two weeks of pre-tax, full-time income for an Ohio mother who earns minimum wage.

“The “Pink Tax” holds Ohio families and women back from their full earning potential by unfairly targeting essential products needed by over half the state’s population,” said Kelly. “Continuing to nickel-and-dime women adds up, especially for minimum wage workers who will lose an even greater proportion of weekly earnings to this unfair state tax. This unfair tax ultimately means women have less money to save for their future and things like car repairs, medical costs and childcare.”

Ohio has historically waivered on sales and use taxes, reducing it in previous years before steadily increasing it under GOP control of the state since 2011. For a time in Ohio, lawmakers even saw to it that cigarettes went untaxed.

“Ohio ended taxes on cigarettes for a decade- from 1971 to 1981. We must find the political will to end this unfair ‘pink tax’ on an innate and intrinsic circumstance of being a woman.,” the lawmakers wrote in their joint request to other House lawmakers for support of the bill.

The average woman has her period for multiple days a month, every month, over the course of 30 to 40 years and will spend over $11,000 on tampons during her lifetime. According to a fiscal analysis from the Legislative Service Commission, Ohio women give the state nearly $4 million in annual taxes from purchasing medically necessary feminine hygiene products. That number would grow even higher under the governor’s proposed budget, which would increase the state sales tax from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent.

Not only does taxing menstruation-control products present economic issues for women and families, but also potential health consequences. Without proper feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads, women are at risk of developing health complications such as vaginal infections, disease and even infertility. The medicine prescribed to treat these problems is tax exempt, but the products that can prevent them are not.

Twelve states, including Pennsylvania and Illinois, do not tax feminine hygiene products. The “Pink Tax” has also recently been eliminated in Canada and Australia.  

Ohio’s remains in the midst of its legal battle after four Cleveland women sued the Ohio Department of Taxation last year in an attempt to halt the “Pink Tax”.