LANSING, MI — Two bills introduced by Republican and Democratic Michigan House members would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales taxes.
HB 4270, introduced by Rep. Tenisha Yancey, D-Detroit and HB 5267, sponsored by Rep. Bryan Posthumus, R-Cannon Township, 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. Those products are currently subject to Michigan’s 6% sales and use taxes.
Lawmakers discussed 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 fiscal analysis.
Yancey, who introduced similar legislation during her last term, said she hopes to see the legislation make it across the finish line this time around.
“This is more than just 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 lack of these products can lead to serious infections and sometimes cervical cancer.”
Women’s sanitation products are not a luxuries, Yancey said, adding that now is finally the time to pass these bills into law.
In Michigan, the legislation has taken several forms over the last six years as nine different versions of these bills have been introduced in the state House.
Posthumus called the legislation “common sense.”
“It makes sense economically, it’s beneficial from the standpoint of encouraging health and wellness and it’s pro taxpayer,” Posthumus said.
Posthumus said the bills would reduce medical costs and the tax burden on the more than 5 million women in Michigan and would help the state’s economy. The Republican lawmaker described the bill as not only a solution to a women’s health issue, but a workplace development bill.
“We’re lifting that burden from typically the lower and lower-middle classes and economically disadvantaged people that really can’t miss out on productivity in the workforce,” he said.
To alleviate the burden of necessary health products is not a partisan or gender-specific issue, Posthumus said.
“I brought this legislation forward as a male Republican strictly because I wanted to take those arguments out of it,” he said.
There are 23 states that have passed laws eliminating state tax on feminine hygiene products. Between 2016 and 2020, Nevada, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Utah and Washington have eliminated state tax on these items.
Feminine hygiene products are often inaccessible or out of reach for those struggling to make ends meet, says the advocacy group Period Equity, a legal organization aiming to end the taxation of such products.
The organization represented three Michigan women who argued the tax amounts to sex-based discrimination in a lawsuit filed against the state in 2020.
The Michigan Court of Claims ruled against the women, arguing that the application of sales and use taxes to the products does not violate state or federal guarantees of equal protection.
The fiscal analysis notes that the court stated “only the Legislature may impose tax or exempt items from taxation.”
The legislation discussed at Tuesday’s committee meeting aims to do just that.
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