'Tampon tax' in California could be removed in new Republican-Democrat bill

Female menstrual items might join viagra and other tax-free products in the state


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The Independent US

The hotly-debated tampon tax could be lifted in California this year as a Democrat and a Republican Assemblywoman have joined forces to introduce a bill that would make menstrual hygiene products more affordable.

Democrat Cristina Garcia and Republican Ling Ling Chang have crossed party lines to take a step towards fighting gender inequality by attempting to add tampons and sanitary pads to a tax-free list in the state which already includes items like viagra and farm equipment, according to Newsweek.

The tampon tax is a sales tax which is applied to consumer products.

The move, the Assemblywomen argued, would help to address the wage gap between women and men, and help to make menstrual items more affordable, if not free, for poorer women and women of ethnic minorities who struggle to purchase the necessary items every month.

Garcia told Sacbee that women spend $20 million a year in California alone on taxes levied against tampons and pads. 

“Here we are underpaid, every penny really matters, and every month we have a necessity we can’t control,” Garcia said. “We’re being taxed for being women.”

Ms Garcia wrote on her Facebook page: "This is not insignificant to women, especially poor women on a tight budget who struggle to pay for basic necessities like a box of tampons or pads every month for their adult life. If we can’t make them free we should at least make them more affordable.”

If the bill was passed, the Golden State would join five other states - Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania - that have lifted the tax. Countries around the world are campaigning to remove the tax on menstrual products for women including Australia, Canada and Malaysia. 

Forbes contributor Bill Whalen described the debate as “cringe-worthy” and questioned California’s priorities in 2016 amid a drought and financially-starved healthcare services.

"If a state were to exempts tampons and feminine napkins, what about toilet paper or jock itch cream?” he wrote.

In the UK, the Conservative government announced it would channel the so-called tampon tax money towards funding shelters for domestic violence, sparking complaints that women are perceived to be the ones that should pay for “women’s problems”.