Why Feminine Hygiene Products Should Be Free

Michigan House Representative, Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, has co-sponsored two bills that are pending in the Michigan legislature. The first bill removes the state’s sales tax on feminine hygiene products, while the second bill makes pads and tampons free in restrooms in high schools, jails, and homeless shelters. Feminine hygiene products are a medical necessity for women so should be tax exempt and should be provided for free for teens in high schools and for women in need.

Ian Wendrow of The State News, the Michigan State University campus newspaper, quotes MSU senior Bryce Airgood, “It’s $10 just for like a nine-pack depending on the brand, it’s awful. So for students who maybe don’t have the funds necessary to buy that type of stuff it’s really nice.” The average cost of tampons is $86 per year. The cost is more for pads, panty liners, and medicine for cramps.

“The ‘tampon tax’ ...is sales tax that, in most states, applies to tampons,” said The Daily Beast blogger Samantha Allen in a piece she wrote last year. Allen argues that the “outrage [over the taxation on tampons] is overblown.” Women can’t prevent or stop their menstrual cycle, making feminine hygiene products a medical necessity, which should qualify them for tax exemption. Recently in California, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would eliminate the tax on tampons and pads in the state. According to Liam Dillon of The Los Angeles Times, Governor Brown was against the bill due to the belief it would cut into California’s tax revenue. Dillon mentions that California does not tax bathroom essentials, such as toilet paper; however, feminine hygiene products continue to be taxed.

Michigan is one of ten states that charges a tax on feminine hygiene products, but not pop or candy. Canada has eliminated the “tampon tax” this past year, and Illinois passed legislation to join New York in the handful of states that don’t tax women for the female necessity.

If the bills proposed by Representative Sarah Roberts are approved, not only would this help the pocketbooks of most households in Michigan, but it would also promote understanding and acceptance of the health needs of over half the population.

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