The “pink tax” or “tampon tax” has been considered controversial for years. It refers to the taxation of many feminine hygiene products, unlike others which are tax-exempt due to their status as “basic necessities.” As anybody with a uterus can tell you, having access to pads and tampons when you’re on your period is about as necessary as it can get.
According to the Washington Post, Tennessee is currently preparing for a three-day weekend in July, when taxes would be temporarily lifted on a number of store-bought items. This will include clothing, electronics, back-to-school items and maybe even feminine hygiene products. Does this sound like great news to you or what?
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for everyone.
The WaPo discusses the concerns of Republican Senator Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, Tennessee, regarding this annual sales-tax holiday. Whereas other lawmakers—such as Democratic Senator Sara Kyle of Memphis—believe that tampons and other similar products should be on the list of tax-exempt items, Hensley is not so sure. His biggest concern? Buying in bulk.
“There’s really no limit on the number of items anybody can purchase,” Hensley argued on Tuesday in a debate against the bill, reports the Washington Post. He worries women will take advantage by stocking up on tampons, sanitary napkins and panty liners, thereby avoiding buying these items when they are taxed again.
Senator Kyle has a different take on this concern.
“I would hope they buy as much as they can,” she said. “But in the first place they don’t have these types of funds or they wouldn’t be asking for this type of effort. These people just don’t have funds, and I’m trying to remove this barrier.”
Thank you, Senator Kyle, for standing up for low-income girls and women everywhere. Feminine hygiene products are an absolute essential, which far too many people are forced to go without due to their high cost. This often means teenage girls missing school for up to a week every month or women missing work at a job they depend on—a problem their male counterparts never have to face.
Tennessee’s tax-free weekend is just the first step in making these products more accessible to all. If the state can survive losing the taxes on clothes, electronics and other truly “luxury” items for three days, they can manage tampons too.