Bleeding Women Dry: Tampon Taxes and Menstrual Inequity

Jorene Ooi | September 1, 2018

In recent years, the problem of menstrual inequity has attracted increased attention. Most states impose a sales tax on menstrual hygiene products—a “tampon tax.” A burgeoning social movement has sought to end the tampon tax, and lawmakers have taken notice by introducing, and in some cases successfully passing, measures to repeal the tax by exempting menstrual hygiene products from the sales tax. This Note evaluates, from a tax policy standpoint, the pros and cons of repealing the tampon tax. It argues that although repeal is usually undesirable as a matter of tax design, the tax should nevertheless be repealed both because menstrual hygiene products are necessities and because the tax is discriminatory. Building on this conclusion, this Note further argues for a women’s menstrual health credit, provided to all women of menstruating age, on the basis that a tax credit would better bridge the financial disparity gap between women who must pay for menstrual hygiene products and men who do not. Along the way, this Note also compares the proposed credit to other proposals to combat menstrual inequity, such as a free-tampons program and expanding welfare benefits to include tampons, concluding that the tax credit would create fewer administrative complexities, would reach more women overall, and is less stigmatizing.