Bipartisan measure will be jointly authored by Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang
(Sacramento) –Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) kicked off her first day of the 2016 Legislative session by introducing AB 1561, a measure to make feminine hygiene products exempt from sales tax. A bipartisan effort that will end the “tampon tax” and bring more gender equity to California’s tax code.
Currently, women in California pay over $20 million annually in taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins, paying on average seven dollars a month for forty years. Garcia shares that feminine hygiene products are a basic necessity and should be free instead of taxed.
“This is not insignificant to women, especially poor women on a tight budget who struggle to pay for basic necessities like a box of tampons or pads every month for their adult life,” Garcia said. “If we can’t make them free we should at least make them more affordable.”
Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) is joint-authoring this measure because she agrees that it is time to take the first step in the right direction by making feminine hygiene products more affordable for women.
According to Assemblymember Garcia, This pay gap makes any additional money women pay for essential goods and services even more unjust. A report by the American Association of University Women shows that women make 79 cents on the dollar when compared to men. Women of color face an even a larger gap, with Latinas making only 54 cents and African American women making only 63 cents for each dollar earned by a man.
“Basically we are being taxed for being women. This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice,” Garcia said. “Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax. You can't just ignore your period, it's not like you can just ignore the constant flow,” Garcia stresses.
Currently, California law exempts health items like walkers, medical identification tags, and prescription medication, including Viagra®. Tampons and sanitary napkins are not exempt.
“When we look at other items that are tax exempt, I think it is only fair that these essential female products be included,” she said. “In fact, it is my hope that one day these necessary items will be free to all women.”
“Our government is imposing a charge exclusively on women by forcing them to pay extra for the ‘privilege’ of a health necessity,” said Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang. "And for many low-income communities it is difficult to access hygiene products. This form of regulatory discrimination should end.”
Assemblymember Garcia and Chang are working to end a longstanding tax on women in California. Across the world, countries as well as select states in the U.S. are organizing to repeal the sales tax on feminine hygiene products which are necessary health products for women. From Canada, to the UK, to Malaysia, political leaders have repealed, reduced, or are under pressure from activists to jettison the “tampon tax.”
To date, only five states in the United States & Canada have taken this action and eliminated taxation on tampons and sanitary napkins.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.