On Thursday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that abolishes the “tampon tax” or a tax on female menstrual products, making New York one of the first states to take this big step forward. Since the state sales tax was introduced in 1965, feminine hygiene products have been taxable.
Cuomo released a statement saying,
“This is a regressive tax on essential products that women have had to pay for far too long and lifting it is a matter of social and economic justice.”
The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Sue Serino. Like Cuomo, Rosenthal gave a statement that emphasized how the tampon tax disproportionately affects poor women:
“The signing of this bill into law represents a new dawn. Women statewide will no longer be burdened by a lingering tax that was levied at a time when women were not part of government and the decision-making process. The tampon tax is regressive, and lifting it will spare all women the extra monthly burden of paying taxes on products that are already unaffordable to many.”
Sanitary products must be purchased every single month , and their cost can make up a large proportion of a poor woman’s disposable income after rent, utilities, and groceries. Some women struggle to afford them at all.
The tampon tax is fundamentally a tax on a necessity. Without feminine hygiene products, women cannot go to work or school, or run errands. They are either bound to their home, or in the case of homeless women, they are forced to bleed in public in their clothing. Some women DIY makeshift sanitary products, but these can increase the risk of a vaginal infection.
Necessities should not be used to pull in tax revenue. Other necessities like groceries are already tax exempt because it seems cruel to skim funds off of Americans meeting their most basic needs. A tax on groceries or tampons makes them less accessible to the poor, even though the poor need them to get by in life just as much as everyone else. New York has taken a bold step by officially recognizing sanitary products as necessities, alleviating one injustice against women that still persists across the country.
“With the signing of this bill today, we are taking a monumental step forward in reforming our out-of-touch tax laws and we are sending a strong message to New York’s women that they are being heard.”
Women raised a public outcry, forcing the government to assess their claims that they need tampons to live successfully in America. Women are finally being heard, and after 52 years of an unjust tax, they are finally getting what they deserve.