New York

Tampon Tax

Women go to court


Five women are challenging New York's sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Like most states, New York charges a base sales tax rate and then exempts certain products, such as unprepared food, from it. The class action lawsuit claims that it's discriminatory not to include tampons and sanitary napkins on the exemption list.

"New York already exempts a whole long list of medical necessities. Everything from bandages and gauze to Rogaine, dandruff shampoo, and Chapstick," the plaintiffs' attorney, Zoe Salzman, told the Associated Press. "There's no question in my mind or in anyone's mind that if men had to use these products every month, they would already be tax exempt."

Salzman doesn't mention it, but the state also exempts many things that aren't medical necessities, such as shoe shining, newspapers, and wine sold at wine tastings. There are even partial exemptions for tickets to amusement parks and musical performances.

Forty states charge sales tax on feminine hygiene products. (Five of the remaining 10 exempt these products from their sales tax, while the others do not have a sales tax at all.) According to the New York Daily News, New York brings in $14 million annually from the tax on tampon and sanitary napkin sales.