Bills to exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax see bipartisan support

LANSING, MI – Two bills introduced by Republican and Democratic members of Michigan House would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales taxes.

HB 4270, presented by Representative Tenisha Yancey, D-Detroit and HB 5267, sponsored by Representative Bryan Posthumus, Township of R-Cannon, would amend the Use Tax Act and the General Sales Tax Act, respectively, to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales and use taxes.

These products include tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins and other similar products designed for feminine hygiene in connection with the human menstrual cycle. These products are currently subject to Michigan sales and use taxes of 6%.

Lawmakers discussed the potential effects of the bills Tuesday at a Michigan House Policy Committee meeting in Lansing.

The so-called “tampon tax” generates about $ 7 million in state revenue each year, according to a House tax analysis.

Yancey, who introduced similar legislation during her last term, said she hopes to see the legislation cross the finish line this time around.

“It’s more than good policy that needs to be turned into law, as every woman in this room knows, menstruation is not a choice,” Yancey said. “Poor menstrual hygiene due to the absence of these products can lead to serious infections and sometimes cervical cancer. “

Sanitation products for women are not a luxury, Yancey said, adding that the time has finally come to pass these bills.

In Michigan, legislation has taken many forms over the past six years as nine different versions of these bills have been presented to the State House.

Posthumus called the legislation “common sense”.

“It makes economic sense, it is beneficial from a health and wellness promotion perspective, and it is pro-taxpayer,” Posthumus said.

Posthumus said the bills would reduce medical bills and the tax burden for Michigan’s more than 5 million women and help the state’s economy. The Republican lawmaker described the bill not only as a solution to a women’s health issue, but as a workplace development bill.

“We relieve this burden generally from the lower and lower middle classes and economically disadvantaged people who really cannot miss the productivity of the workforce,” he said.

Alleviating the burden of needed health products is not a partisan or gender issue, Posthumus said.

“I introduced this legislation as a Republican man strictly because I wanted to withdraw these arguments from it,” he said.

There are 23 states that have passed laws eliminating the state tax on feminine hygiene products. Between 2016 and 2020, Nevada, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Utah, and Washington eliminated state tax on these items.

Feminine hygiene products are often inaccessible or out of reach for those struggling to make ends meet, says advocacy group Period Equity, a legal organization aiming to end taxation on these products.

The organization represented three Michigan women who argued the tax amounted to gender discrimination in a lawsuit filed against the state in 2020.

The Michigan Claims Court has ruled against the women, arguing that applying sales and use taxes to products does not violate state or federal guarantees of equal protection.

The tax analysis notes that the court declared “only the legislature can impose taxes or exempt elements of taxes”.

This is exactly what the bill discussed at the committee meeting on Tuesday is all about.

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