Gender Neutral Tax Code Urged in California, Third Time
(Sacramento) –A bill to repeal the tax charged on menstrual health products advanced out of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation committee yesterday with unanimous, bipartisan support. The bill is the third attempt by Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) to create a gender neutral tax code.
“When I originally introduced this bill it started a national movement to rectify the discriminatory taxation of menstrual products. California was leading the charge,” said Garcia. “Today, the most progressive state in the union is behind the curve in providing a gender neutral tax code that doesn’t profit off of a woman’s basic biological functions. I’m hopeful that governor-elect Newsom’s sense of equality will prevail over his predecessor’s.”
In 2016, the bill (AB 1561) passed through the legislature nearly unanimously only to be vetoed by Governor Brown who cited a resulting loss of funds if the tax was removed. In 2017 the bill was held in Assembly Appropriations.
Currently, women in California still pay over $20 million annually in taxes on tampons, sanitary napkins, and menstrual cups paying on average $7 a month for forty years of their lives. California law exempts health items like walkers, medical identification tags, and prescription medication, including Viagra®. Menstrual health products are not tax exempt in California even though they are deemed medical necessities by the Federal Drug Administration.
Garcia has already sent letters to Governor Newsom and the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees to highlight in inequities the tax imposes and request its removal through a budget act.
At least ten states exempt menstrual health products from sales tax. Meanwhile, in California the tax remains and a case is pending before the California Superior Court. That case claims the state is in violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause on the basis that tampons and sanitary napkins are not luxuries, but basic medical necessities.
In 2017, the self-proclaimed Tampon Queen was successful in expanding access to menstrual health products with the passage of AB 10. That bill provides free menstrual health products in low income school bathrooms. Last month, her request to the Joint Legislative Committee on Rules to provide free menstrual products in the State Capitol for visitors and staff, was approved.
“The bottom line is we cannot balance the budget on a person’s uterus,” concluded Garcia. “Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are being taxed for being born with a uterus. Every month of our adult life we are taxed for our biology. Every month we are told our periods are a luxury, while also being told they are something to be ashamed and we must hide. I respect the need for California to be fiscally sound, but the state budget should not be balanced by a tax of a person’s uterus. The same goes for local governments; our tax codes should be gender neutral,” said Garcia.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.