Ohio Democrats want to ax the 'tampon tax' - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Ohio Democrats want to ax the 'tampon tax'

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COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) -

Opponents of the so-called “tampon tax” or “pink tax” could see relief in Ohio.

Democratic Reps. Brigid Kelly of Cincinnati and Greta Johnson of Akron say the “tampon tax” holds women back from their full financial potential and puts a gender-specific burden on necessary hygiene products.

House Bill 61 would eliminate the sales tax on tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins and other menstrual hygiene products.

“Continuing to nickel-and-dime women adds up, especially for minimum wage workers who will lose an even greater proportion of weekly earnings to this unfair state tax,” Rep. Kelly said in a statement. “This unfair tax ultimately means women have less money to save for their future and things like car repairs, medical costs and childcare.”

The “tampon tax” is shorthand for the taxes menstrual products are subjected to, despite other necessities such as medicine and food often being exempted. The "pink tax" generally refers to the extra cost women might pay for services and products such as clothing, vehicle repairs and shampoo. 

Eliminating the "tampon tax" is steadily gaining steam across the nation and in some European countries. In the past few years, lawmakers in Connecticut, Illinois and New York have stripped sales taxes on menstrual cups, pads, tampons and other feminine hygiene products.

“A tampon is a medical necessity for Ohio women— not a luxury item,” said Rep. Johnson.

However, similar measures have also failed in some states. In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have eliminated the state’s taxes on menstrual products. Gov. Brown said the tax breaks would have put a multi-million hole in the state’s budget.

“Tax breaks are the same as new  spending,” the Democratic governor said in a statement to the state’s assembly.

Some have argued barring a tax creates momentum for interest groups to lobby and seek more exemptions, or position their products in a way to dodge taxes.

Ohio is in the midst of a class action lawsuit after four women sued the state’s department of taxation over the “tampon tax.”

The lawsuit, filed in March 2016, aims to ax the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

"A tax on tampons and pads is a tax on women," the lawsuit argues. "The ‘Tampon Tax’ is irrational. It is discrimination. It is wrong. Defendants should be required to follow the law, and return the many millions of dollars they took illegally at the expense of women's health."

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