The Gender Gap Series: Tampons - That Bloody Sales Tax : Planet Money Most states in the U.S. have a sales tax on menstrual products. Some states have repealed this so-called Tampon Tax, on the grounds that it's unfair to women. But the repeals come at a cost.
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The Gender Gap Series: Tampons - That Bloody Sales Tax

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The Gender Gap Series: Tampons - That Bloody Sales Tax

The Gender Gap Series: Tampons - That Bloody Sales Tax

The Gender Gap Series: Tampons - That Bloody Sales Tax

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/751428407/751438806" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken in Nantes on February 24, 2016 shows tampons. Residual amounts of potentially toxic substances were found in sanitary pads and tampons, French consumer rights group "60 Millions de Consommateurs" announced, urging the government to impose stricter control on the products. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

This episode is a part of our week-long series, The Gender Gap, where we're re-running some of our favorite stories about the gender gap in the economy. This story originally ran in March of 2019.

In 35 U.S. states, women have to pay sales tax for menstrual hygiene products. That extra cost adds up over time and it especially affects low-income women. Many people believe those taxes are unfair to women, and a number of states have eliminated them. Research based on New Jersey's Tampon Tax repeal in 2005 showed that tax breaks on menstrual products helped women across the board by making products cheaper and more accessible.

Many of the states that have nixed the Tampon Tax gave menstrual products a medical supply tax exemption, aligning them with products like condoms, dandruff shampoo, gauze and chapstick. But a lot of people argue menstrual products shouldn't be exempted, because the tax revenues they generate can help states to pay for public policies and programs.

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