HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia Senate voted unanimously on Monday to make menstrual supplies sold in the commonwealth tax-free.
Last year, lawmakers voted to reduce the tax on some essential hygiene products, including menstrual products, by almost half, down to 2.5 percent, from their original full sales tax rate.
Now, a bill proposed by Senator Jennifer Boysko passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote on Monday to "provide that menstrual cups and pads, pantyliners, sanitary napkins, tampons, and other products used to absorb or contain menstrual flow shall be fully exempt from sales and use tax."
With stores charging up to $9 for a box of 36 tampons, women will spend more than $2,000 on feminine hygiene products during their lifetimes.
"This tax break is great for everybody. It's going to make life a lot easier just by a little bit," Rachel Gaghan, an RN and Patient Care Coordinator at The Free Clinic in Harrisonburg, said about the reduced tax passed last year.
"You think about the same moms who are using diapers over the lifespan of multiple children, and put them in a situation where their income has them asking... 'Do I get my own hygiene products? Or do I keep getting diapers for my kid?' It's a no-brainer – she's going to forgo her own health," Gaghan said.
A similar bill to completely eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products and diapers was left to die in a Republican-controlled committee in 2018.
Removing the tax on feminine hygiene products completely, as multiple other states have done, would cost the commonwealth about $5 million in lost revenues annually, officials say.
According to the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit think tank, 14 states do not tax feminine hygiene products. Ten specifically exempt them – Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The other five – Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon – do not have a sales tax at all.
Earlier this session, the Senate also unanimously passed a bill requiring public schools to include free menstrual products in their bathrooms.
The bill will next head to the House of Delegates for approval, where it’s expected to pass as well. Following that, it will head to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk for a signature to become law.
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