State's 'tampon tax' going away Sunday

State's 'tampon tax' going away Sunday

Come Sunday, the tax on feminine hygiene products in Illinois will decrease, the result of state legislators ditching the so-called "tampon tax" in a move lauded for helping the area's low- income women and furthering gender equity.

After the change takes effect Jan. 1, products such as tampons and menstrual pads will lose their state tax and only be subject to local taxes.

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, women can expect to save roughly 9 percent in Champaign-Urbana — or 45 cents for every $5 — and 8 percent in Savoy.

Brigid Leahy, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said it was a health risk to label feminine hygiene products as luxuries, since skin infections and irritation can result if they're not used regularly.

In addition, she said, women are prone to health problems, including Toxic Shock Syndrome, if they don't have enough of the products to change them when required.

"The tax was unfair," Leahy said. "Only women have periods, so it was inherently sexist."

"There's a crass statement one could make in response to thinking women have the luxury to purchase feminine hygiene products," said Brandon Meline, director of maternal and child health at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. "Any tax repeal that alleviates pressure on the lower socioeconomic group helps our clients."

Leahy said she was happy to see bipartisan and male support for ending the tax before Gov. Bruce Rauner repealed it in August. She said she's been talking to legislators and researching other ways to make feminine hygiene products cheaper or free to those with low incomes.

"The first step was the gender-equality issue, but we also need to look at this as an issue of access," Leahy said.

Maxwell Haynes, a University of Illinois political science student and president of the UI Anti-Discrimination Task Force, said he believes repealing the tax will have a domino effect on the country, similar to marriage equality and marijuana legalization.

He also said the move could help to strike down cultural taboos around menstruation.

"That's the general shift in our culture — toward more equality," he said.

"Tampon tax"-elimination bills were passed in Illinois, New York and Connecticut this year alone, following other states in recent years. Around 15 more are reportedly considering following suit.

"It's good for everybody to recognize there are basic things everyone needs, and the government shouldn't restrict access to them," Leahy said.

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Sancho Panza wrote on December 29, 2016 at 8:12 am

Why will tampons be taxed at a lower rate than something like toilet paper?

The women interviewed all failed to consider men often pay a share of the "tampon tax" on behalf of their wives and daughters.

handmaderecords wrote on December 30, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Tampons will not be taxed "at a lower rate" than other necessities.  They'll just STOP being taxed at a HIGHER rate.  How is that hard to understand?

Also, the women interviewed didn't "fail to consider" anything, and whether men contribute financially to the items in question is completely irrelevant to the question at hand.

justkerrie2u wrote on January 03, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Thank God they are doing away with the higher tax on women. The fact there was even a separate tax in the first place was a little archaic. You're right. It should be taxed at the same rate as toilet paper.
Some laws. ... here's your sign.

justkerrie2u wrote on January 03, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Thank God they are doing away with the higher tax on women. The fact there was even a separate tax in the first place was a little archaic. You're right. It should be taxed at the same rate as toilet paper.
Some laws. ... here's your sign.