Lawmakers in Florida are fighting to eliminate the “tampon tax,” or a sales tax on items women use while menstruating.
Despite the fact that these items are necessary for women to lead a healthy and normal life, the government has been treating them as luxury items by taxing them instead of considering them to be a “common household remedy” under state law.
Two proposals for changing that error moved ahead in the Florida Legislature on Tuesday.
Thirteen states have realized this policy is absurd and have switched to making the products tax-free. Hopefully, Florida will soon join them.
Those in favor of retaining the “tampon tax” argue it is an asset to the state’s economy. Getting rid of the tax could cost Florida $3.8 million a year in tax revenue, and local governments could lose up to $1 million on a recurring basis.
But the argument is based entirely on the opinion that women should carry the burden of paying for products they cannot healthily function without. It is a responsibility men do not have to face.
Women will spend approximately $18,000 over their lifetime on products for their period, according to the Huffington Post. When you consider women are still paid on average 80 percent of what men earn in the U.S., you realize how absurd this entire process is.
Making feminine hygiene products tax-free will impact the economy, but not in a manner worthy of any panic. In 2015, the government spent approximately $75.5 billion, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Losing $3.8 million hardly makes a dent in the budget.
Women cannot go without them, so they will continue to pay the obscene prices each month. It’s unfair they should be considered a luxury when women cannot go to work or school, play sports or go out in public without them.
New York made history in 2016 when it passed legislation allowing menstrual products to be free at public schools, shelters and corrections facilities. Others began to take up the cause, and the push for free products began to pop up across the country.
Florida isn’t asking for that.
The Florida Legislature is simply saying women shouldn’t have to pay taxes for something they need to survive.
During his term, former president Barack Obama said the tax more than likely exists because men wrote the laws.
“I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items,” Obama said in January 2016. “I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
We shouldn’t have to wait for women to become equally represented in government to start having fair laws. They are slowly claiming seats, but it will be years before they are accurately represented.
Over 51 percent of Florida’s population is women and in 2016 only 25 percent of its lawmakers were female, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They are a majority in the state and should be considered when lawmakers in Tallahassee vote on new policies.
Florida can afford to lose the “tampon tax.” We have plenty of other revenues for funds and it will save the women living here a great deal of money.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.