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Aunt Flow

Tampons are Flowing into the Courtroom

BY Claire Coder

Talk of alleviating the tax on tampons has been rampant in the media for this past year. Now, tampons are making their way into the courtroom.

Nancy Kramer, businesswoman and spokes model, is the founder of the Free the Tampons movement. Following her TED Talk regarding how “all bathrooms are not created equal,” her hash tag “FreeTheTampon” went viral. Lawyer, activist, and profound feminist, Jennifer Weis-Wolf shares the same frustrations regarding the luxury tax on tampons.

Clearly, the government is starting to listen. Yesterday morning, five women fielded a groundbreaking class action suit to end the Tampon Tax in New York. The suit also seeks refunds for millions of women targeted by the illegal sales tax. The five women include: an actor/co-founder of Racket., a mathematician/data scientist, a programs coordinator for children’s programs, a photographer, and a professor.

New York exempts medical items from sales tax. But the five women point out that taxing authorities impose a double standard when defining medical items for women and men. Rogaine, foot powder, dandruff shampoo, chapstick, facial wash, adult diapers, and incontinence pads are not taxed. Tampons and sanitary pads are.

“It’s time for New York to stop taxing women for being women. We hope this case will be the beginning of the end of the Tampon Tax in this country,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & AbadyZoe Salzman, another lawyer for the women, articulately stated, “Tampons and sanitary pads are a necessity for women, not a luxury. There is no way these products would be taxed if men had to use them.”

Countering the women and their efforts to lift the tampon tax is Tony Abbott, economist and Australia’s previous prime minister. When presented with an opportunity to sign a petition to remove the tax, Abbott refused to sign. He stood firm in his belief and stated, “Sanitary items are different from condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches because people already want to use them and there is no evidence of significant public health risk if usage falls. Also, “necessity” is not the binding criterion for determining what gets taxed – we tax electricity.” On a financial premise, Abbott claims that, “Taking the GST off tampons and sanitary napkins would cost states about $30 million a year in GST funding, according to budget watchers Deloitte Access Economics.

2016 has been referred to as, “the year of the tampon” by Cosmopolitan Magazine. This statement continues to hold true as women continue to speak out, lawyers get involved, and Aunt Flow continues to gain momentum.

More is to come on this topic. In the mean time, Flow Forward. Aunt Flow.

WATCH: Nancy Kramer, TED Talk – Free the Tampons