Sole Gender Specific Tax in California Goes for Round 3
Period Tax Repeal Bill Will Be Reintroduced
(Sacramento) –A bill to repeal the tax charged on menstrual health products that was introduced and held last year in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, AB 9, today was held again on suspense by Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher effectively killing last year’s measure. Nonetheless, the author will persist and reintroduce a similar measure by the February 16th deadline.
“California is the most progressive state in the nation yet this gender-specific tax--the only gender specific tax--that still exists in our tax code,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who is also chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “I’m disappointed in the Chairwoman’s decision today but I’ve been thwarted on this attempt before and it only invigorates me to fight harder. I am hopeful that 2018 is the year California recognizes taxing someone for being born with a uterus is not the way we want to create revenue for the government.”
The new bill will be the third attempt by Assemblywoman Garcia to create a gender neutral tax code in California. The bill idea was first introduced in 2016 (then AB 1561) and passed through the legislature nearly unanimously only to be vetoed by the Governor who cited a resulting loss of funds if the tax is removed. The Governor currently relies on the tax’s $20 million revenue to balance his budget for the state.
Women in California still pay over $20 million annually in taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins, paying on average $7 a month, for an average forty years.
“When I first introduced this bill it started a national movement to rectify the taxation of menstrual products. California was leading the charge. Today, 14 states plus the District of Columbia exempt menstrual health products from sales taxes. A state that voted for Donald Trump as President has outpaced California in women’s equality and that’s just sad,” added Garcia.
A staunch advocate for period equity, Garcia’s bill last year to provide free menstrual health products in low-income schools, AB 10, became law on January 1 this year. That measure has been hailed by advocates for increasing educational opportunities for young women who miss school without access to essential health products.
Nationally, nine states plus the District of Columbia now exempt menstrual products from taxation by law. Five other states do not levy sales and use taxes at all. Meanwhile in California the tax remains and now enters into its third year of legislative action by Garcia. A case is also before the California Superior Court, on the basis that tampons and sanitary napkins are not luxuries, but basic medical necessities. The case states that the current tax violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.
California law exempts health items like walkers, medical identification tags, and prescription medication, including Viagra®. Tampons and sanitary napkins are not exempt.
“Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are being taxed for having a period. 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 of and we must hide. The state budget should not be balanced by a tax of a women’s uterus; our tax codes should be gender neutral,” said Garcia.
Assemblymember Garcia is committed to working with legislators and activists in California, as well as throughout the country. The movement that began last year will continue into 2018.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.
CONTACT: Teala Schaff