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House Dems look to axe "Pink Tax" on women's healthcare products

Say discriminatory tax combined with wage inequality poses economic hurdle for women and families
June 22, 2015
Democratic Newsroom

Democratic lawmakers today announced new legislation to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons, pads, menstrual cups and sanitary belts. 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.

“Women only earn 77 percent compared to their male counterparts in Ohio, but are forced to spend a significant amount of their wages on these essential healthcare products,” said Representative Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The “Pink Tax” is an additional burden placed on women that intensifies the gender wage gap and makes preventative healthcare for women more expensive.”

The average woman has her period for multiple days a month, every month, over the course of 30 to 40-years. Tampons alone cost women an average of $1,773 over a lifetime, according to a recent breakdown of essential feminine hygiene costs. Lawmakers say levying a sales tax on feminine hygiene products places an additional financial burden on Ohioans already at an economic disadvantage. 

“Essential feminine hygiene products are a necessity, not a luxury,” said Representative Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Women have to fight to earn equal pay for equal work and the ‘Pink Tax’ is yet another hurdle that we must overcome.”

Without proper feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads, women are at risk of developing health complications such as vaginal infection, disease, and even infertility. The medicine prescribed to treat these problems is tax exempt, but the products that can prevent them are not.

“No one should face extra economic challenges simply because of their gender,” Rep. Kevin L. Boyce (D-Columbus). “The hidden costs of taxing essential products are real for too many Ohio women and families, especially in communities with high poverty or where women are the head of households. By eliminating the “Pink Tax” we can take on step further toward making Ohio a truly equal opportunity state.”

As the legislature debates a state budget that includes tax cuts to benefit the wealthy, the Democrat’s proposal represents a tax reform measure aimed at directly benefitting working and middle-class women and families.

“Eliminating the “Pink Tax” will level the economic playing field for Ohio women,” State Rep. and Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) said. “Instead of changing the tax code to benefit the wealthiest one percent, we should be working towards reforms that benefit middle class families by putting money back in to the pockets of working women.” 

Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Minnesota have already repealed state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products. The “Pink Tax” has also recently been eliminated in Canada and Australia.