Story at a glance
- Many people who menstruate cannot afford period products.
- In 2022, 22 states still tax menstrual products, which is down from 40 states in 2016.
- A new partnership between CVS Health, Period Law and PERIOD. aims to end taxes on menstrual products throughout the country.
CVS Health announced its support for the elimination of the tampon tax and will work to end the sales tax on menstrual products as part of its new partnership with Period Law and PERIOD.
The tampon tax, or period tax, refers to sales tax tacked onto period care products. It’s come under fire as people who menstruate need to buy the products and non-menstruating people do not, meaning people who do end up paying more for a necessary item.
Earlier this month, CVS Health announced it would lower the cost of regular retail period products by 25 percent, though the reductions only apply to CVS brand tampons, menstrual pads, liners and cups.
Only 22 states continue to impose a tax on period products, and the new partnership will target efforts in these regions.
“While all 22 states enjoy a budget surplus, the tax revenue associated with menstrual products in most of these states is less than one one-hundredth of a percent of each state’s total revenue,” a press release from the three organizations reads.
“Exempting the tax on menstrual products, deemed health necessities by the American Medication Association, is negligible to overall revenue.”
Period Law, a legal nonprofit organization, has been working to end the period tax since 2016, filing lawsuits claiming the practice is unconstitutional.
PERIOD. is a youth-led nonprofit organization that helps distribute menstrual products to those in need and promote menstrual equity.
However, some states have laws preventing organizations from paying taxes for customers, and CVS Health rolled out its program in 12 states where the practice is legal: Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
“Purchases of period products should have been tax-exempt from the start, just like prescription drugs. Due to lack of adequate representation in state legislatures when sales tax bills were passed, and the stigma around talking about menstruation, state governments have heedlessly bilked women out of billions of dollars on purchases of these medical necessities,” said Period Law executive director Laura Strausfeld in a release.
“All elements are now in place to end the tampon tax in the U.S. by the end of the next legislative session. There is no opposition, only inattention.”
In the United States, one-in-10 college-aged women experience period poverty, or a lack of access to menstrual products, each month. One survey carried out among 1,000 teens found 1 in 5 struggled to afford period products.