Bill to squash ‘Tampon Tax’ in Va. moves forward

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A push to end the so-called ‘Tampon Tax’ is moving forward at the State Capitol.

Picking up a pack of pads or a box of tampons will no doubt cost you in Virginia, but some people think it shouldn’t cost so much.

Right now, these types of products are slapped with the Retail Sales and Use Tax. That’s 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and 5.3 percent elsewhere in the commonwealth.

HB24 would exempt them. Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) introduced the legislation.

On Tuesday, a House Finance Subcommittee voted 7-1 to move the bill forward. It now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.

“I find it really exciting to see that our voices are being heard,” said Boysko.

The Democrat is hopeful her bill will become law now that Virginia has a record number of women in the House.

“We are starting to have those conversations to say, perhaps you haven’t thought about these issues in the past,” she said. “But we’re here. We now have a seat at the table.”

Before the subcommitte voted, they heard from several people with opinions on the proposal.

Corinna Anderson was there to support it.

“This is a medically-essential supply that half of the population, at one time or another, has to purchase,” she said.

Anderson is a volunteer at Sylvia’s Sisters.

The nonprofit gives girls in need free menstrual hygiene products in Richmond and Petersburg as well as Chesterfield and Henrico counties.

“It came to my attention a couple of years ago that there were girls who were missing school or dealing with hygiene and social embarrassment issues around not having the money in their family to afford these essential supplies,” said Anderson.

A box of tampons can cost about $10. Purchased each month, that’s $120 a year. After decades, it can amount to thousands of dollars.

The exemption could help slice hundreds off that cost.

But it would also have a cost to the commonwealth. Virginia would lose out on about $5 million each year for the next few years by not charging the tax.

“I’ve put in a budget amendment that would cover the cost of the difference in tax revenues,” said Boysko.

Del. Kathy Byron (R-Beford) was the lone “no” vote.

She said the tax code is not discriminating against women, as some people have portrayed.

“The tax code is not gender specific,” she said.

Byron argued any exemptions should be done in a comprehensive manner. She said there could be other items — like incontinence products — that could potentially qualify for a break.

Should it pass, it would go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

There are some similar bills that were introduced this General Assembly session.

HB25 would add pads, tampons and menstrual cups to the list of items given a limited exemptions from the Retail Sales and Use Tax during August sales tax holiday for certain school supplies, clothes and shoes.

HB152 would provide an exemption from the Retail Sales and Use Tax for sanitary napkins, tampons, sanitary towels, menstrual cups and sanitary pads.

HB448 is substantively identical to HB24.

Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania already exempt feminine hygiene products from the tax.

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