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California governor rejects exemption for diapers, tampons


 Should gender-specific products be exempt?

Bucking a growing global trend, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has vetoed measures seeking to exempt diapers (AB 717) and feminine hygiene products (AB 1561) from California sales and use tax. Tampon taxes, as they are popularly called, have been recently eliminated in New York, Illinois, and Connecticut, which also exempted diapers.

In his veto message, the Gov. Brown explained, “Each of bills creates a new tax break or expands an existing tax break. In total, these bills would reduce revenues by about $300 million through 2017-18…. [T]ax breaks are the same as new spending — they both cost the General Fund money. As such, they must be considered during budget deliberations so that all spending proposals are weighed against each other at the same time.”

AB 1561 bill sponsor Cristina Garcia had hard words for the governor, tweeting “Jerry Brown please #mansplain why it’s ok to balance the budget on women’s backs?” Since introducing her bill, she has consistently pointed out that Viagra is exempt (all prescription drugs are exempt in California) and argued that menstrual products should also be considered exempt health-care goods.

AB 717 bill sponsor Lorena Gonzalez’s response was more measured: “We knew from the beginning that making the case for addressing diaper need would be a long journey, and today’s disappointing setback just means we’ll be back to try again. We will continue working to achieve sales tax reform and bridge the diaper gap that forces too many of California’s working families to struggle.”

Changes in product taxability affect retailers as well as consumers. Sales tax software simplifies sales tax compliance in all states, making businesses more agile and adaptable. Learn more.


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.