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Bill seeks to exempt menstrual products from state sales tax

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Two Girl Scouts from Plano traveled to the Texas Capitol to advocate for the state to exempt feminine hygiene products from the state’s sales tax. 

Both Ruhika Patra and Samantha Haggerty learned about what’s commonly called the “tampon tax” through a project.

The effort to exempt feminine hygiene products from a state sales tax has taken place in many states over the last few years. According to The New York Times, Nevada became the 10th state in 2018 to eliminate tampons and sanitary pads from a statewide sales tax. No state sets a special or unique tax on feminine hygiene products, but they’re sometimes considered luxury items, rather than necessities. 

“Before I started the project, I didn’t even know there was a tampon tax on these products,” Patra said. “Being able to afford these products, it’s already frustrating enough, so just imagine for the people in poverty who can’t even easily afford to buy these. Think about how difficult and how much of a burden that must be.” 

House Bill 311, filed by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, defines feminine hygiene products as a tampon, sanitary napkin, menstrual cup, menstrual sponge, menstrual pad or other similar tangible personal property sold for the principal purpose of feminine hygiene in connection with the menstrual cycle. The bill was discussed in the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday morning. 

“It’s a bipartisan effort,” Howard said. She continued: 

“I think we all recognize that period equity is extremely important to our constituents. We’re talking about something that impacts girls and women from as young as around 11 maybe up to 50 — every single month — a recurring expense that I think is considered a medical necessity. This is not a luxury item.” 

Haggerty said she learned about how the products weren’t exempt from the state sales tax when she did more research about the issue. She recently signed a petition to support an exemption proposal in California.  

“They’re things that women use every single month and at the end of the day, they shouldn’t be taxed because they are necessities and so because they are taxed, it’s an unjust tax on biology and being a woman,” she said. 

The bill will need to be voted out of the Ways and Means Committee before it can be considered by the Texas House. 

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