Mar 20, 2023 - News

Should Georgia tampons be taxed?

Period product taxes by state
Data: Alliance for Period Supplies; Note: Includes legislation that went into effect in January 2023; Map: Madison Dong/Axios Visuals

Georgia is one of 12 states considering legislation to exempt menstrual products from taxation this year.

  • Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have already done it.

Driving the news: State Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) has been pushing for the change since 2018 and this year again co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to exempt all period-related products from state tax.

  • Buckner told Axios while it hasn't yet gotten a vote this year, the bill "is still in play. There is a small chance it could make it across the finish line, which would involve being added on to some other bill."

Why it matters: The average cost of menstrual products is about $20 per cycle and adds up to about $18,000 over the average woman’s lifetime, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.

  • One in four people in the U.S. who menstruate can't afford period products, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Period Supplies.
  • Tampon prices rose in the first half of 2022 by nearly 10% and pads by more than 8%, a NielsenIQ report found.

What's happening: Buckner argues this is "just a tax burden on women who already don't make as much as men. There is a non-equivalent for men."

  • "It is an unfair tax and it would be fair, equitable and nice for it to go away."

Zoom in: Buckner's years of efforts haven't eliminated the menstrual product tax yet, but she has helped secure now-annual state funding for nearly $1.5 million worth of products in low-income schools.

  • Georgia was the first state to allocate funds to address "period poverty," according to the advocacy group Georgia STOMP.
  • Buckner said girls were missing school every month for lack of access to period products. "I do not want girls in Georgia not going to school because they don't have period products," she said.

Of note: CVS Health started paying the tax on period products purchased in-store and online in some states last fall including Georgia, the company told Tyko.

The intrigue: Buckner told Axios resistance to the tax exemption appears to stem from colleagues' concerns that it could open up a "Pandora's box" of other requests for sales tax exemptions — and that it's not that much of a savings.

Yes, but: "How many symbolic statements of tax relief do we make, and why are they more important than this one?" Buckner said. "This makes up half the population of Georgia."

What's next: This year's session ends next Wednesday.

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