Virginia won’t be joining other states that have already repealed the so-called “tampon tax” quite yet. But next year, both tampons and diapers could at least be a little cheaper.
As a delegate, now-Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, had tried twice to exempt menstrual products from the state’s sales and use tax, and this year her renewed effort was semi-successful.
Her legislation was adjusted to match a bill sponsored by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, that reduces the sales tax on personal hygiene products — including items ranging from tampons and sanitary napkins to diapers and disposable undergarments — to 1.5 percent, matching Virginia’s tax on food, starting in 2020.
Both the House and Senate passed the legislation, and it is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.
In an email, Byron said solely repealing the sales tax on menstrual products would be discriminatory and have a big impact on the state budget. She had researched other options, and said the proposal she settled on is “fair and equitable.”
“The items that would be covered under this bill are not optional luxuries, but absolute necessities to those who use them,” she said. “There are products on the list of covered items that are used by men, and products used by women. There are products that apply to the very young and those who are older.”
Boysko said she was happy with the bipartisan compromise, and particularly pleased that items like diapers will have a reduced tax.
“We talk a lot about having families with dignity and being able to afford to live in their communities,” Boysko said. “This is a really tangible way that can help people all over Virginia, especially those who have to count pennies every month.”
According to a paper published by Christopher Cotropia of the University of Richmond School of Law and Kyle Rozema of the University of Chicago Law School, repealing the tampon tax “removes an unequal tax burden and could make menstrual hygiene products more accessible for low-income consumers.”
Pending the results of the November election, Boysko said she will likely continue to push to repeal the tampon tax entirely in the future. But she said this is a good first step.
She’s also intent on bringing back legislation that would require schools to make menstrual supplies available to students at all times and at no cost.
Boysko said that the successful legislation this year, even if it doesn’t eliminate the tax completely, could be due in part to simply increased awareness about women’s issues.
“Menstrual equity in general is an issue that I don’t think people thought about until more women took leadership positions in places of power,” she said. “This is a tangible example of how we need more voices from different points of view making policy decisions.”