Are you paying tax on your period products? Here’s how to join the fight to end the tampon tax

Claire Harmeyer

What do you think is more necessary for people to have access to nationwide? Tampons or chainsaws? Tampons or food coloring? Tampons or donuts? Your answer should be tampons, tampons, and yes, tampons. Dare we say, duh? Astonishingly, 33 state governments disagree. That’s right—33 states in the US are still taxing period products, meaning that they don’t view them as “necessities,” which are worthy of a tax exemption. But they do consider donuts worthy. We love a good donut, but not more than we need access to proper hygiene products. This should be a no-brainer.

Thankfully, women’s lifestyle brand LOLA and Period Equity, the nation’s first law organization fighting for menstrual equity, know that periods should be tax-free, which is why they’re joining forces for the next phase of the Tax Free. Period. campaign. Their goal? To pressure states to eliminate the tax on menstrual products by tax day, 2020.

In a video launching the powerful campaign, the leaders of this movement call out the government for menstrual inequity and the unfair treatment of menstruating individuals—which is half of the population, by the way.

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We couldn’t agree more, and we have a feeling you might, too. The crucial fight for menstrual equity is happening now, which is why it’s more important than ever for you to be educated and prepared to participate.

First things first: What exactly is the tampon tax?

Thirty-three states still charge a sales tax on period products, which means that the governing bodies of each of these states deem tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and similar products unnecessary and unworthy of a tax exemption. Chainsaws, donuts, golf club memberships, gun club memberships, and food coloring are considered necessities worthy of a tax exemption. Seriously? A large proportion of the population menstruates and needs access to proper period care.

“We stand with legal experts who have declared [taxing period products] a violation of state and federal law, including the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” the Tax Free. Period. website declares.

So, what is Tax Free. Period. going to do about it?

Period Equity is made up of a group of lawyers who launched the original fight against the tampon tax in 2015—and successfully pressured the state of New York to remove it. LOLA is a brand that sells period and sexual health products tax-free. These two pioneers in the healthcare industry are partnering to make a necessary change in menstrual equity by initiating a few key actions.


1They’re sending letters to 33 governors


The campaign is putting all of the 33 states still taxing period products on notice, and urging them to take proactive measures to eliminate the tampon tax. If the states choose not to take action, they have been urged to be prepared to defend against legal challenges.

Since the campaign launched, Ohio and Rhode Island have eliminated the tampon tax—a round of applause for Ohio and Rhode Island! Do you hear that, you 33 other states? That’s the sound of the equal treatment of human beings.

2They’re launching a creative, national tampon tax protest

Next, the Tax Free. Period. campaign launched the largest modern sales tax protest ever by facilitating tax refund claims for individual tampon purchasers to file online. And they want you to submit for a refund from your state for all the pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and other period products you have to buy.

Here’s exactly how you can participate in the protest:

Place pressure on your state (or others, if you live in a tampon tax-free state), by posting #taxfreeperiod on social media. Besides spreading awareness of the issue, here are some concrete ways to take action in this important fight.

  • Step 1: Buy a box of tampons, pads, or liners, and keep your receipt on hand.
  • Step 2: Complete a claim for refund contesting the sales tax on your receipt as unconstitutional, available to download on taxfreeperiod.com.
  • Step 3: Mail your form and receipt to your state’s department of revenue as an act of protest.
  • Step 4: Rally your community by posting about it and encouraging others to join the movement.

This crucial fight is just getting started—make your voice heard in the battle for menstrual equity by spreading awareness in your communities and on social media, participating in the above steps, and not taking no for an answer. Every period should be tax-free. Period.