TEXAS VIEW: Texas should eliminate the tampon tax

THE POINT: Abbott’s support signals this tax’s days are numbered.

Taxes are, at best, a necessary evil. But there are certain areas where, if we can get the government out of our pockets, we should.

In Texas, there is an opportunity to lift taxes on tampons and other sanitary feminine products. These are not optional consumer items; they are necessary for personal hygiene, but we tax them like they aren’t.

That’s not true of similar health and hygiene items. According to the state’s comptroller’s website, certain basic necessities are tax exempt. For example, adhesive bandages are exempt if they “absorb drainage.”

A recent report in The Texas Tribune noted that 24 states have made tampons and other menstruation products nontaxable. Texas may be about to join them. Gov. Greg Abbott, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican, are now all on record calling for sales tax on women’s sanitary products to be eliminated.

The Legislature needs to follow their lead in the next session and vote to eliminate the “tampon tax.”

The state receives no meaningful revenue from the tax. But even if it did, eliminating it would be the right thing to do. Taxing people on products they must purchase is a dubious matter on any level. Taxing them on something so personal and necessary as this borders on immoral, not to mention discriminatory.

“Taxing these products is archaic, and it is time for Texas to join the 24 states that already exempt tampons and other feminine hygiene products from sales tax,” Hegar said in a press release. “Our economy and state revenues are strong, and Texans are grappling with inflation and challenging price increases on everyday goods.”

Huffman, who chairs the Senate finance committee, added that “Every woman knows that these products are not optional. They are essential to our health and well-being and should be tax exempt.”

The chair of the House’s Women’s Health Caucus, Rep. Donna Howard was pleased with the support.

“I am proud to have championed menstrual equity issues in the Texas House for the last three sessions and am ready to file this bill in November. One in 4 Texas women regularly struggle to purchase period products and 1 in 5 girls report missing school monthly because they do not have access to period products. Ending the discriminatory tampon tax is the first step to ensuring all Texans have access to period products,” the Austin Democrat told us.

Abbott has promised to sign legislation if it makes it to his desk. A spokesperson for the governor, Renae Eze, told the Tribune that “Governor Abbott fully supports exempting feminine hygiene products from state and local sales tax.”

This should have happened years ago, but better late than never.

Now, we might ask, what else is Texas taxing that it shouldn’t be?

Dallas Morning News