Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

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tck62
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Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by tck62 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:28 pm

One in four women struggle to afford period products due to a lack of income. In the first citywide study on ‘period poverty,’ it was found that 46% of low-income women had to choose between a meal and period products.

A recently run ad by Always states that 88,000 girls in Los Angeles have missed school because they can’t afford period protection.

This is impressive for two reasons.

The first, obvious to most people, is that number — 88,000. Surprising. Maybe a little shocking.

The second reason may only be obvious to menstrual-equity junkies: the fact that this data exists at all. Because, as common as menstruation is — with 50% of the U.S. population experiencing it for an average of 40 years in their lifetime, approximately 2,160 days — no wide-scale study exists on menstruation and access to menstrual products in the United States.

And so, although we individually know menstruation requires management and products and resources and time and sometimes medical attention, we don’t have much data informing how a lack of access to products (due to poverty, neglect, a woman simply forgetting to bring a product with her or a number of other reasons) affects women and girls individually, communities at large and ultimately our economy.

Here’s what we do know.

One in four women struggle to afford period products due to a lack of income. In the first citywide study on “period poverty,” it was found that 46% of low-income women had to choose between a meal and period products. And when a mother is presented the choice of buying food for her children, or menstrual products for herself or her daughter — she likely chooses the food.

Sad.

But, economically speaking, is “period poverty” an issue worth solving?

One popular proposal to improve affordability is to exempt menstrual products from state sales tax. Fifteen U.S. states have already banned the tax. The other 35 have proposed legislation to do so — Utah is among these.

If Utah were to exempt sales tax from all tampons and pads, it would be a loss of approximately $4.3 million of state and local tax revenue annually. That’s a lot. And it has to be made up somewhere. So let’s consider the options.

One of the major arguments supporting the sales tax exemption on menstrual supplies has to do with items that do not incur taxes around the United States.

In Alabama, casings used to shape wieners and Vienna sausages are exempt. North Carolina takes pity on sororities and fraternities by offering them tax-free meals. Texas favors cowboy boots. Mississippi has a practical stance, exempting coffins. Louisiana — no surprises here — Mardi Gras beads. Michigan gives deservedly delicious donuts the break. And, a personal favorite, cotton candy in Iowa—the perfect escape for a tax-free sweet tooth.

But how does a state like Utah — a place that intellectually leans toward the logic of a flat tax rate and has hesitated to exempt tampons and pads from sales tax four years in a row for fear of ‘complicating the tax code’ — line up?

Let the tax code speak for itself. Sales-tax-free items in Utah: tickets to college athletic events, vending machine candy, car washes, snow cannons and the teenage favorite, arcade tokens.

With all of this talk of Vienna sausages and cotton candy — let’s not lose sight of the issue at hand: women missing work and girls missing school because of an inability to afford menstrual products. Women and girls experiencing embarrassment because they are not able to care for their periods. Women and girls getting infections from using unhygienic materials.

Would saving these women and girls an average of $5 a year on sales tax make the difference? Not entirely. But we have to start somewhere.

So let’s. Let’s make a start. A simple swap, for, say — college athletic events.

The University of Utah alone brought in $79 million in revenue for athletic event tickets in 2017. At a sales tax rate of about 6.85% — tax revenue would be $5.4.

Brigham Young University wins (in at least this rivalry) by selling more tickets than the U. — which could bring in even more tax revenue. Not to mention the nine other colleges with athletic programs — and associated ticket sales.

So, in the grand mathematics of taxation — tens of millions of dollars gained in tax revenue from college sporting events minus the $4.3 million lost revenue for tampons and pads equals Utah in a tax revenue positive situation.

Feeling a little obvious? It gets better.

The real upside to the economic argument lies eons beyond the reaches of sales tax. The real economic upside lies deep within our women and within our girls.

Girls who stay in school become educated. Educated women attain higher-paying jobs. Better jobs allow women to care for families and for communities. And ultimately, women’s economic contribution improves society for everyone.

It becomes a beautifully self-perpetuating cycle.

There is a short-term cost to providing menstrual products and exempting them from sales tax. But in the hands of our women and our girls, the long-term economic gain is immeasurable.

Emily Bell McCormick is the owner of a boutique communication and advocacy consulting firm in Salt Lake City. She is also the founder of The Policy Project, a group working to implement healthy policy in Utah and the U.S.

https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2019/10 ... od-poverty



tck62
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Re: Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by tck62 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:36 pm

Being a man I hadn't really thought about this issue before reading this, it certainly seems like a problem. It reminds me of a story I read awhile ago about a Philadelphia school district and the problems they had keeping toilet paper in the rest rooms as the rolls were stolen almost immediately. I'm used to buying toilet paper and my wife's female products in bulk at Costco because we have the access and available storage space, I'll bet these products could get pricey in a hurry at convenience store prices.

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Re: Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by GuideToACrazyWorld » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:49 pm

As I said elsewhere, this had never occurred to me before either. Although I've made similar arguments for cloths being necessities in today's word, so why shouldn't these products as well?

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Re: Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by Procax Nothus » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:36 pm

These product are a necessity to women and girls. I have gone out and purchased them for my wife and I'm always like WTF at the prices some companies charge. Elimination of the sales tax would be a good first step.

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Re: Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by tck62 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:25 pm

"Tampons Shouldn’t Be Tax Free. They Should Be Covered by Food Stamps and Medicaid"

https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/0 ... icaid.html

Time for a swap, let's stop buying soda on SNAP and move the $1 Billion savings to cover tampons and pads.

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Re: Guest opinion: Removing the tax on women’s products can help end ‘period poverty’

Post by Z is for Zangie » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:47 pm

tck62 wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:25 pm
"Tampons Shouldn’t Be Tax Free. They Should Be Covered by Food Stamps and Medicaid"

https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/0 ... icaid.html

Time for a swap, let's stop buying soda on SNAP and move the $1 Billion savings to cover tampons and pads.
I can't go with the soda thing...my libertarian bent to telling people what they are allowed to eat or drink ( poor or not) just doesn't approve...we can't police people's personal decisions and shouldn't

As a woman who had really bad periods, extreme pain and flow...so bad it turned out I had a tumor ( thank goodness I don't have to deal with that anymore)...lol..the inability to buy sanitary products would have been horrifying, embarrassing and stressful...terrible as a teenager maybe even more...I have no problem with the take away the sales tax proposal...

I am trying to think what is tax-exempt in Ohio...other than food..services like hairdressers, barbers, nail techs, etc, used to be, but now they are taxed...lots of taxes here...lol...

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