Gender Neutral Tax Code Won in California
(Sacramento) – Prior to releasing his detailed May Budget Revision, Governor Newsom today announced he would repeal the sales tax now charged on menstrual products. The repeal would go into effect upon his signature of the budget, which the legislature must pass by June 15, 2019. In his remarks, Governor Newsom applauded Garcia’s tenacity and perseverance at promoting the issue in California and the nation.
“I applaud the Governor’s actions today in finally sending a message that our bodies are not a luxury,” said Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “Today, California joins eleven other states by removing these necessities from being charged a sales tax. Today, we finally moved California into an era with a gender neutral tax code.”
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. The bill was reintroduced this year, for the third time, as AB 31 and is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It will continue to move through the legislative process until the budget is signed in June.
Currently, women in California still pay more than $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.
“The advocates for this measure were instrumental in making today a reality,” said Garcia. “Women and men from around the state made their voices loud and clear taking this from a state tax measure to an international movement. I am proud of our allies and their perseverance, and most especially, of their unwavering support.”
Earlier this year Garcia 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. She also worked closely with the First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, to elevate the issue within the Administration.
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.
“I’m not done talking about our periods,” added Garcia. “But today is the first day I’ve been able to think about what’s next in the menstrual equity discussion. Our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. This administration has put equality at the forefront of its efforts and California will be a better place because of it.”
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.