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Michigan considers sales tax exemption for tampons

  • Feb 2, 2017 | Gail Cole

 Will Michigan exempt tampons and similar products?

Shortly after North Dakota legislators voted down a proposed tampon tax exemption, Michigan lawmakers introduced one.

Democratic Rep. Brian K. Elder introduced House Bill 4129, which seeks to exempt feminine hygiene products, defined as “tampons, sanitary napkins, and other similar tangible personal property,” from sales tax. Fellow Democrat Rep. Winnie Brinks introduced House Bill 4128, which would exempt these products from Michigan use tax. Senators David Knezek and Rebekah Warren, also Democrats, introduced companion measures in the Senate (SB 91 and 92).

The exemption is being sought because feminine hygiene products are a necessity for women. Rep. Elder pointed out that “Michigan currently exempts everything from Pop Tarts and magazines to farming equipment from sales tax, so it’s unfair that women are forced to pay a 6 percent penalty. Every dollar a poor or working class mother pays for this tax is a dollar she would rather spend on her children.”

Sen. Knezek and Rep. Brinks raised the issue of health, with Knezek saying these products should be treated the same as exempt medically necessary items. Additionally, Sen. Warren said, “Given the number of products a woman must use in her lifetime [an estimated 17,000], that 6 percent adds up, and the cost becomes an undue burden she is forced to carry, simply because of her biology” (Michigan House Democrats).

These are powerful arguments. But opponents of exempting feminine hygiene products in other states also make fair points. For example, Sen. Lee of North Dakota said of the defeated North Dakota measure, “We don’t exempt toilet paper, and we wouldn’t even be being gender-specific in that.” The conservative Tax Foundation takes this position: “The primary purpose of taxes is to raise needed revenue, not to micromanage the economy. The tax system should not favor certain industries, activities, or products” (Baby blues: taxing essentials).

If enacted, the Michigan exemption would take effect on July 1, 2017.

Changes in product taxability, whatever the cause, make sales and use tax compliance more challenging for companies that sell and consume affected products. Tax automation software helps simplify it. Learn more.

photo credit: classic_film 1965 Ad, Pursettes Tampons, Pretty Girl in Various Fashions, Swimsuit, Sportswear, Dress via photopin (license)

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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.