Mar 14, 2024 - News

Hoosier women will keep paying tampon tax

Illustration of a dollar bill inside a sanitary napkin wrapper.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Indiana lawmakers thought about eliminating the so-called "tampon tax" this year. They got close … and then they didn't.

Why it matters: Indiana has one of the highest state tax rates in the nation on tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products — medical necessities for half of Hoosiers.

  • With a 7% sales tax, Indiana is tied with Mississippi and Tennessee for the highest rate, although states that allow for local sales tax rates may see higher combined rates in some cities.

Catch up quick: Proposals to eliminate the tax in Indiana have been made for several years but this year's effort got closer to passing than any before.

  • The House added the provision to a Senate bill that it passed, but the language was removed from the final version on the last day of the legislative session.
  • House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) told reporters afterward that because there's a fiscal impact, it will likely be discussed again next year while lawmakers are writing the state budget.

Reality check: The General Assembly already has a packed agenda for the next session.

  • It's possible that the Democrat-led proposal falls short again, as the Republican supermajority looks to ease other taxes, including the income tax, and fund their own priorities, such as expanding school choice.
  • Plus, lawmakers will have to address ballooning Medicaid costs.

By the numbers: Indiana's tampon tax brings in less than $5 million annually, according to state estimates.

  • It accounts for roughly 0.02% of the state's annual budget.

Yes but: The cost can be a burden for many women.

  • A survey of low-income women in St. Louis found that two-thirds reported difficulty affording menstrual hygiene supplies.

Zoom out: 21 states currently tax period products.

  • Last year, Texas became the latest to make menstrual products tax-free.

What they're saying: "Menstrual products are basic necessities," said Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis), who has proposed legislation to nix the tax several times. "Taxing them creates an unfair financial burden on women and girls."

Go deeper: An Indianapolis hub helps nonprofit combating "period poverty"

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