Fifth time's a charm? Lawmaker wants to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax

click to enlarge MARCO VERCH PHOTO/FLICKR
Marco Verch photo/Flickr

For the fifth year, Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) is sponsoring legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax similar to other necessities, including food and medical supplies.

During a hearing on the bill Monday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee heard the simple logic behind the change: Women unfairly pay hundreds of dollars in taxes over their lifetime on products that are medically necessary to go about their daily lives.

Washington state would lose $4.5 million per year in taxes if the bill passes.

"That seemed like a fair amount of money," concerned citizen Lisa Kremer said during the public hearing. "And I was thinking, 'Wow, all of that money is paid solely by women of childbearing age.' That doesn't seem fair either."

Her daughter Nora McCarthy, a senior in high school, also testified. McCarthy shared that she and her sister put on an event to educate people about menstruation last year, and they were surprised at the level of misinformation out there.

"The one that we got the most was the misconception that women can hold in their periods like it's going to the bathroom," McCarthy says. "I don't know who needs to hear this, but that's not the case. Women can't hold in our flow. Menstrual products are a necessity, they enable women to participate in society, to go to school, to go to work."

Indeed, Wilson noted that women trying to save money might use products longer, which can actually be dangerous, as wearing a tampon for too long increases the chance of potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.

The bill would permanently remove feminine hygiene products, including pads, tampons and menstrual cups from the list of products subject to state and local sales taxes.

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...