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Tired of paying sales taxes on tampons? New Georgia legislation could save you money




Georgia women could soon save nearly $10 million each year on menstrual products.

New legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives aims to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax,” which requires consumers to pay sales tax on feminine products that many consider a medical necessity.


House Bill 8, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City, would exempt tampons, pads and other menstrual products from Georgia’s sales tax. Other medical items, such as prescription medications, insulin syringes and hearing aids, are already tax-free.


“There’s no male equivalent for this product,” Buckner said in an interview with The Telegraph. “And so, when you look at the fact that this is something that happens to women, essentially, once a month for forty years, they’re being taxed for a medical product or device that is a necessity, not an option.”

Buckner proposed an earlier version of the bill last session, which never made it to the House floor for a vote. Macon-based organizer Claire Cox has spent the past year mobilizing activists and politicians across the state to bolster support for the legislation.

“This is an issue right here in Georgia, too,” said Cox, president of Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us).


The extra cents female residents spend on sales tax may be minimal from month to month, but they add up over time. Georgia women earn an average of 70 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. About two thirds of them work minimum wage jobs. U.S. women spend more than $18,000 on period products during the approximately 2,000 days they menstruate throughout their lifetimes, a 2015 Huffington Post analysis found.


‘AN ADDED BURDEN’

The cost of menstrual products varies between brands and stores, said Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, co-founder of the menstrual policy organization Period Equity, who researches barriers to access for menstrual products.


For some women and girls, she said, it’s especially difficult to access period protection.

Low-income women who purchase small packages of pads or tampons at neighborhood corner stores each month often pay more per unit than more affluent women who can afford to buy bigger packages in bulk, Weiss-Wolf said.

Young girls whose parents struggle to afford menstrual products sometimes have to go without, she said.


“If you have a student in your household, and they get their period on a Monday, and your paycheck doesn’t come until Friday, and you don’t actually have the spare change or spare $7 between now and then, between the other expenses that you have to meet, that’s not, you know, the student’s fault,” Weiss-Wolf said. “That’s an added burden.”

About one in five girls in the U.S. has missed school because she didn’t have access to period protection, according to the 2017 Always Confidence and Puberty Study. Though both Bibb and Houston County schools offer free sanitary napkins to students in need, such resources aren’t available in all schools across the state.


Incarcerated Georgia women also lack access to period products, Weiss-Wolf said.

The First Step Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in December, will increase availability of menstrual products in federal prisons. A proposal to expand such access in Georgia prisons is still under review.


“Women are half the population,” she said. “We’ve not had any hesitancy to regulate items that everybody uses or only men use and to create incentives and ways to make sure that those needs are being met. So, you know, I would ask anyone who thinks it’s not of interest ... if they would feel the same way about just from now on continuously carrying their own toilet paper.”

A SIMPLE REQUEST

It’s a very simple request, Buckner said.

“It is merely putting another medical device in the codes section or in the Georgia law where the other tax-exempt medical devices are listed,” she said. Menstrual products are classified by the Federal Drug Administration as medical devices and should be treated as such in the tax code, Buckner added. Nine states have already exempted feminine hygiene products from their sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation. Most of the other “tampon tax” bills passed in northeastern state, but similar legislation removed menstrual products from neighboring Florida last year.


Buckner’s legislation, modeled after proposals in other states, never made it past the second round of readings when it was introduced last legislative session. But the bill has since garnered bipartisan support from more than two-dozen cosigners who hope to sign it into law this year. Buckner has even convinced some of her male colleagues to support her legislation. Exempting menstrual products from Georgia’s sales tax would result in an annual loss of between $9 million and $10 million in annual revenue, the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts found. The loss would account for less than 1 percent of the $22.8 billion in tax revenue the state collected in fiscal 2018.


Article by BY SAMANTHA MAX at The Telegraph. For the full article visit https://www.macon.com/news/local/article224960485.html

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