Bill would eliminate sales tax on feminine hygiene products

NYS Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal of the 67th Assembly District.

A bill that would eliminate all state sales tax on feminine hygiene products was passed unanimously by the Assembly on March 15, and now awaits action by the Senate.

The bill was first introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal back in May 2015, and would exempt feminine hygiene products from New York state sales tax.

“Tampons are hardly a luxury good and should not be taxed as such,” Rosenthal said.

Supporters of the bill (S.06726 / A.07555), including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, are expecting it to pass by the end of session.

“In passing this measure, New York will join other states that have acknowledged the inequity of taxing these essential health items and alleviate this cost burden for thousands of women here in our state,” Heastie said.

Recently, a lawsuit was brought against the New York State Department of Taxation by five New York women. The women are seeking damages, arguing that the state sales tax on feminine hygiene products violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. and state constitutions.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said he supports the legislation, which is sponsored in his house by Sen. Sue Serino. If it passes the Senate and is signed by the governor, New York will join other states including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts which do not tax feminine hygiene products. In passing this bill, New York would treat feminine hygiene products as other medical necessities.

Supporters say the bill is essential because it would correct the fundamental imbalance that currently exists in New York state by exempting certain feminine hygiene products, including but not limited to, sanitary napkins and tampons from state sales tax.

Similar bills in other states have gained considerable media attention and even captured the attention of President Barack Obama.

During an interview with vlogger Ingrid Nilsen in January, Obama was surprised to learn that most states tax tampons and sanitary products and said, “women should work to get those taxes removed.”