Holy crap, New York is about to get rid of the tampon tax


All hail the menstrual gods! New York state is set to eliminate the tampon tax once and for all, and it’s a really big f*cking deal.

Why? In June 2015, yours truly broke the news that 40 states still consider feminine hygiene products “luxury” items—not “necessities”—and thus subject them to a sales tax. Meanwhile, these same states choose to exempt other items that would hardly qualify as necessities—including, depending on the state, candy bars, arcade games, and Viagra. As such, the tampon tax has risen to represent one of the many ways in which our society penalizes women just for being women.

Which is why, over the past year, politicians, activists, journalists, and women everywhere have been clamoring to put an end to the tax through petitions, hashtags, lawsuits, and yes, the introduction of new legislation.

Even President Barack Obama, when asked about the tampon tax during a YouTube interview in January, said tampons are only taxed because people who don’t use them (i.e., men) are often the ones making the laws.

I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items. I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed. I think it’s pretty sensible for women in those states that you just mentioned to work together to get those taxes removed.

And yet, despite the media attention, real change has come slowly. In February, for example, Utah had a chance to eliminate the tampon tax but chose to keep it. Notably, all the lawmakers involved in this decision were male.

But now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: On Wednesday, the New York state legislature passed a bill to end the tax, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to sign it!

“Repealing this regressive and unfair tax on women is a matter of social and economic justice, and I commend Assembly Member (Linda) Rosenthal and Senator (Sue) Serino for their strong advocacy on this measure,” Cuomo said. “I look forward to signing it into law.”

With the law’s passage, New York will become the first state to end the tax since menstrual equality has taken center stage. Five other states had already passed laws exempting tampons from taxes before the issue blew up—Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Jersey—because they’re awesome.

One down. Thirty-nine to go.

Taryn Hillin is Fusion’s love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.

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