Major progress has been made in Lansing, MI over the past week as a bill combatting the 6% sales tax on menstrual hygiene products, introduced by Rep. Yancey-(D) and sponsored by Rep. Posthumus-(R), made it through the House of Representatives. Similar bills have been introduced in Michigan before, but this is the first time that this type of legislation has made it far enough to be voted on. With bipartisan support, many are optimistic about the future of this bill and what it means for people who purchase these products on a regular basis. I can tell you firsthand that TDO is very excited!
Over the past ten years, several states have passed legislation to eliminate the sales tax on all period-related products included pads, tampons, menstrual cups, liners, and other alternatives. Many of these strides have been made possible by state legislators and advocates, who are the best route to help combat period poverty on larger scales. Several of these movements have been championed by the national organization Period Equity (www.periodequity.org), who have had their own experience with the tampon tax and Michigan courts. Their updated statistics show that the “tampon tax” has only been tackled in about half of the states, meaning there is still a long way to go.
While 6% may not seem like a significant amount, the culmination of all product purchases adds up quickly. To better visualize this scenario, let’s put it into concrete terms. First, it is important to note that tampons are recommended to be changed about every four hours. There are twenty-four hours in a day, about 8 of which are for sleep, which leaves sixteen hours in a person’s day. Therefore, a sixteen-hour day with a new tampon every four hours, plus at least two for overnight, estimates that the average person with an average flow uses six tampons in a day. Now, multiply this estimate by five, as the average duration of a period is five days. That is 30 tampons for one period! According to Target’s website, the average box of tampons contains between 28-48 tampons. All of this math comes down to a roughly box a month, in which case, shows that the 6% sales tax on every tampon box purchased does has a large cumulative impact on the consumer. Eliminating this tax would relieve a huge financial burden and could reduce the long-standing effects that period poverty has.
I have written about the tampon tax before and period poverty is a major focus of The Dot. While we do not focus on the legislative aspects of these issues, they are still important to us and significantly play a role in our work. We are hopeful and excited to see where this bill goes and what it means for period-product consumers in the state of Michigan!