End the “Pink Tax” in Ohio

By Melissa Martin

It’s menstrual mayhem. It’s period pandemonium. Ohio is experiencing a feminine hygiene products tax controversy. Why should females have to pay taxes on a monthly product that only girls use? According to Ohio law, menstrual products are deemed non-essential goods.

In 2017, the battle to plug up the “Pink Tax” started with a pair of Ohio House Democrats and House Bill 61. But, it was a no-go flow.

In 2018, a “Pink Tax” bill exempting pads, tampons, panty liners and menstrual cups from sales tax was introduced. The Ohio House voted 84-1 to pass the bill, but it failed in the Senate by the end of the session in December 2018. The only opposition vote came from state Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati. Really? Brinkman, are you out of the doghouse yet with the females in your family? Kudos to the Ohio House. Boo to the Ohio Senate.

In 2019, the “pink tax” bill was reintroduced as HB 545. Republican Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Dayton) is co-sponsoring the bill, along with Democratic Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) that makes tampons and sanitary pads tax free in Ohio. You go ladies! HB 545 is now waiting in the Ohio Senate.

“Not only does taxing menstruation-control products present economic issues for women and families, but also potential health consequences. Without proper feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads, women are at risk of developing health complications such as vaginal infections, disease and even infertility. The medicine prescribed to treat these problems is tax exempt, but the products that can prevent them are not.” Visit Kelly’s statehouse website page for more info.

A 2019 article in The Cincinnati Enquirer pointed out that “Women spend upwards of $70 a year on menstrual products and use as many as 16,000 tampons in a lifetime, according to Period Equity, a national group that advocates for tax-free menstrual products.”

“The average woman has her period for multiple days a month, every month, over the course of 30 to 40 years and will spend over $11,000 on tampons during her lifetime. According to a fiscal analysis from the Legislative Service Commission, Ohio women give the state nearly $4 million in annual taxes from purchasing medically necessary feminine hygiene products. That number would grow even higher under the governor’s proposed budget, which would increase the state sales tax from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent,” according to Brigid Kelly at www.ohiohouse.gov.

Is the tampon tax unconstitutional? “Thirty-five states impose a sales tax on menstrual hygiene products, while products like spermicidal condoms and erectile dysfunction medications are tax-free. This sales tax—commonly called the “tampon tax”—represents an expense that girls and women must bear on top of the cost of biologically necessary items that they need in order to attend school, work, and otherwise participate in public life,” according to a December 2019 article at www.lawreview.richmond.edu.

A June 2019 article in Forbes pointed out that Period Equity, a non-profit, and LOLA, a reproductive health brand partnered to launch “Tax Free. Period.” A campaign to mobilize legal action to end the tampon tax in the 35 states in the U.S. by 2020.

The American Medical Association (AMA) supports legislation to remove sales taxes on feminine hygiene products.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global advocacy platform that brings together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual hygiene management for all women and girls. www.menstrualhygieneday.org. And to manage periods, females have to purchase hygiene products.

It’s time to close the purse on the “Pink Tax.” Terminate the tax on feminine hygiene products in Ohio. But keep state Rep. Tom Brinkman in the doghouse.


By Melissa Martin