California: A Sales Tax Exemption for Women
- Jan 9, 2016 | Gail Cole
Update 9.14.16: Governor Brown has vetoed AB 1561, so feminine hygiene products remain subject to California sales and use tax. Learn more.
Two lawmakers in California began the 2016 Legislative session with a proposal to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. In so doing, they are echoing a call that has sounded in Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, and many other parts of the globe.
AB 1561, introduced by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D) and Ling Ling Chang (R) is short and sweet. It seeks to add the following to California’s Revenue and Taxation Code:
There are exempted from the taxes imposed by this part the gross receipts from the sale in this state of, and the storage, use, or other consumption in this state of, sanitary napkins and tampons.
If enacted, tampons and sanitary napkins would join approximately 100 other goods and services that are specifically exempted from California sales and use tax, including:
- Admission charges
- “Buddy poppies” and similar lapel pins
- Custom computer programs
- Ice or dry ice
- Mailing lists
- Occasional sales
- Prescription medicines
- Vehicles sold to family
In announcing the measure, Garcia said, “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.” Chang said, “Our government is imposing a charge exclusively on women by forcing them to pay extra for the ‘privilege’ of a health necessity.”
Many other items deemed necessary, such as diapers and toilet paper, are taxable in California. Then again, Viagra is exempt.
In Great Britain, consumers pay 5% tax on sanitary products, which is considerably lower than the 20% rate applied to most non-essential consumer goods. However, crocodile and other exotic meats are taxed at a rate of 0%. Read more about the tempestuous tampon tax.
If feminine hygiene products are exempted in California, the state will lose approximately $20 million in sales tax revenue annually.
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