Women In New York Are Fighting The Tampon Tax With A Class Action Lawsuit

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Among women, the tampon tax hasn't been very popular, to say the least. So today, five women in New York filed a class action lawsuit to fight the much-maligned tax.

The complaint argues that sales tax for tampons and sanitary pads violates state law, which declares that medical items shouldn't be taxed. According to the complaint, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance "imposes a double standard when defining medical items for women and men," since medical items also used by men — like Rogaine, foot powder, dandruff shampoo, ChapStick, facial wash, adult diapers, and incontinence pads — are tax-free. Tampons and pads, on the other hand, are exclusively used by women.

"Tampons and sanitary pads are far more necessary to the preservation of health than Rogaine, dandruff shampoo, or many other products the Department considers medically exempt," the complaint states. "The Department’s double standard for men and women finds no support in the tax law and serves no purpose other than to discriminate."

The group of women who filed the complaint consists of an actor, a mathematician, a children's programs coordinator, a photographer, and a professor — proving that the financial burden of menstruation touches women from all walks of life. Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has yet to comment on the suit, the women hope to gain support over the next year.

"It’s time for New York to stop taxing women for being women," said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel for the women, in a statement sent to Refinery29.

Some states, like New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, have already put an end to taxes on menstrual sanitary products. Other states, like California, are considering doing the same. With most of the menstruating women in America using tampons, it's not likely that this move to end the discriminatory tax will stop without a fight. And with women currently forking over thousands of their hard-earned dollars on these products, why should it?

As the complaint states: "The Tampon Tax is irrational. It is discrimination. It is wrong. Defendants should be required to follow the law, and return the many millions of dollars they took illegally at the expense of women’s health."

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