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6/22/2019 Budget eliminates ‘tampon tax’ in RI
STATE HOUSE – Rhode Island will stop taxing feminine hygiene products under the budget bill approved by the House today.

The budget bill includes the proposal submitted earlier this session as separate legislation (2019-H 5307, 2019-S 0049) by Rep. Edith H. Ajello and Sen. Louis P. DiPalma to exempt menstrual products from Rhode Island’s 7-percent sales tax.

“Exempting menstrual products is relief from both a financial burden and an injustice for women. This tax makes an expensive necessity even more unaffordable for many women, and it adds up over the course of a lifetime to a significant amount – for which there is no equivalent for men. It amounts to a tax on being a woman, and I’m so glad that Rhode Island is joining the growing ranks of states that recognize that they should not be imposing a tax on a woman every time she needs to buy menstrual products,” said Representative Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

The proposal was added to the budget bill (2019-H 5151Aaa) last week when the House Finance Committee approved it. Under the bill, which next heads to the Senate, tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar products used in connection with women’s menstrual cycles will all become exempt from sales tax, just as many other necessities are.

“Rhode Island should not be taxing feminine hygiene products as if buying them is some kind of luxury that indicates a person’s ability to pitch in a little more to support the state. They are a necessity, and one that is already fairly expensive for those of limited means. You can’t buy them with SNAP, and many women and girls can’t afford as many as they actually need. The state doesn’t need to add to their costs. For the same reason we exempt food and clothing — necessity — we should exempt menstrual products, and I’m very pleased that now our state will,” said Senator DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Tiverton, Newport).

Both sponsors have filed the bill since 2016, and it has been supported by the Rhode Island Medical Society, Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Policy Institute.

Of the 45 U.S. states that collect sales tax, 10, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, currently exempt feminine hygiene products. Canada eliminated the “tampon tax” nationwide in 2015, and several other countries have as well.

Among the numerous other categories and items that have been declared exempt from state sales tax in Rhode Island are clothing items under $250, food, newspapers, coffins, boats and horse food.

A box of 36 CVS brand tampons currently costs $6.29, on which the state would collect 44 cents sales tax. If a woman were to buy a box at that price every month for 40 years, she would pay about $211 in sales tax on them, a cost to which men are not subject, since there is no similar regular necessity for men on which they pay sales tax.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923