The tampon tax, or the taxing of menstrual products that generates upwards of $150 million a year, is an unconstitutional denial of equal protection under the 14thAmendment, as it effectively constitutes sex-based discrimination, according to The LA Times.
Most states exempt “necessities of life” from their sales tax which includes food and medicine. In some states, the necessity exemptions include things such as bingo supplies, cotton candy, erectile dysfunction pills, gun club memberships, and tattoos.
Bills to exempt menstrual products from sales taxes have been introduced in 32 legislatures since 2016 and yet only five succeeded: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Nevada. An additional ten states don’t tax menstrual products because they either don’t collect a sales tax at all, or because they’re included under general exemption categories.
Although tampon tax bills were introduced in 22 states with overwhelming bipartisan and public support in 2019, few were actually passed. In Tennessee, a budget surplus was instead used to eliminate a gun ammunition tax, which enabled the state to save its “hunters and shooters $500,000 annually across the state”.
A law that affects only one sex, or one race, or one religion, is discriminatory.
A class-action lawsuit was made against the New York State Department of Taxation in 2016 using the argument that the tampon tax violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case was withdrawn after the local legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly passed legislation.