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Monday, July 25, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - Update on "No tax break for feminine hygiene products or diapers"

That was the heading to this Jan. 28, 2016 story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reported by Niki Kelly. Some quotes:

Indiana House Republicans on Thursday turned back attempts to give Hoosiers a sales tax break when buying feminine hygiene products or diapers.

Nationally, a movement against the so-called tampon tax has popped up recently but it was a first for Indiana.

Indianapolis Democrat Rep. Christina Hale offered both amendments to a bill that provided a similar sales tax exemption for buying gold and silver bars.

She said women must buy these products every month of their lives and it can be expensive and burdensome. Hale said giving a tax break to people who like to purchase gold bars is evidence the state can do this.

But the amendment failed - with all Republicans voting against it.

A separate amendment for diapers received five Republican votes but still failed decisively. Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne, did support the amendment.

Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the base bill creates a tax break so a guy can hug his gold bar in a shelter. He encouraged them to add the amendment and it could be a bill for "prepper and pampers."

Shari Rudavsky had this story in the Indianapolis Star, also on Jan. 28. Some quotes:
Who deserves a tax break: Those who buy gold bullion, women who menstruate and buy feminine hygiene products, or families who buy diapers for their youngsters?

For a moment Wednesday, the Indiana House had the opportunity to exempt all of the above items from state sales tax.

The tax-break fervor began with a bill that addressed would-be bullion buyers, adding Indiana to a list of 34 states that provide a sales tax exemption for purchases of precious metal currency such as gold and silver coins.

Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, proposed amendments that would extend the exemption to feminine hygiene products and diapers, hopping on to the bandwagon of a national movement to ban the so-called tampon tax. Only a handful of states deem these items necessities and tax-exempt.

With one in six women and girls in Indiana living in poverty, Hale argued that they and other women were just as deserving of a tax break when it comes to buying feminine hygiene products as are those who deal in precious metals.

In March of this year, Lucy Westcott of Newsweek reported that "Five Women Sue to End New York ‘Tampon Tax.’" Some quotes:
On Thursday, five women filed a class action against the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and its commissioner, Jerry Boone, urging state lawmakers to lift the tax on tampons and other feminine hygeine products. The lawsuit claims that the four percent New York state tax collected on tampons and sanitary pads, which are not considered medical items under state law, “violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and New York Constitutions.”

The plaintiffs—Margo Seibert, Jennifer Moore, Catherine O’Neil, Natalie Brasington and Taja-Nia Henderson—say that while New York state doesn't tax items deemed “medical,” including Rogaine, dandruff shampoo and lip balm, tampons and sanitary pads—items used only by women and classed as “general merchandise”—are taxed.

The defendants “should be required to follow the law, and return the many millions of dollars they took illegally at the expense of women’s health,” the suit states.

“It is a vestige of another era, and now is the time to end it,” the lawsuit says. Tampons and sanitary pads “are not luxury items, but a necessity for women’s health,” it goes on to say.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classes tampons and pads as “medical devices,” according to the lawsuit. The products help prevent illnesses, the suit states. * * *

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that the tax should be repealed. Earlier this year, Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill seeking to end the state's taxation on tampons and pads.

Several U.S. states, including Pennsylvania and Minnesota, have successfully stopped the tax, while Connecticut and Illinois are considering changes to the law. Earlier this month, an all-male panel of lawmakers in Utah voted against removing the tax on feminine hygiene products. President Barack Obama in January said he doesn’t agree with the tax.

Here is a copy of the lawsuit.

Last week, (July 21st) Abrigal Jones of Newsweek reported, in a story headed "New York Terminates the Tampon Tax,"

New York became the 11th state without a tax on menstrual products when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation eliminating local and state sales taxes on them.

“This is a regressive tax on essential products that women have had to pay for far too long and lifting it is a matter of social and economic justice,” Cuomo said in a statement. The new law, which goes into effect on September 1, 2016, includes panty liners and newer products such as period underwear. * * *

Of the 10 other states that don’t tax menstrual products, five have no sales tax in the first place (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) and five exempt menstrual products (Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania).

Since the start of 2016, 15 states have introduced legislation or initiated legislative debate to eliminate the tampon tax. It’s a dramatic turn for an issue that was barely even whispered about one year ago. “I hope that of the 15 states that took up this issue this term, more of them will feel the pressure or the will to see it through next legislative session,” says Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a leading writer and advocate for menstrual equity. In addition to New York, Illinois and Connecticut have both seen legislative success in repealing the tampon tax.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 25, 2016 12:22 PM
Posted to Indiana Government