Tampon tax—menstrual and feminine hygiene products being subject to VAT—still exists in 21 states across the US. The Journal of Global Health reports that two-thirds of the 16.9 million low-income women surveyed in the US could not afford menstrual products last year, with half of them admitting they had to choose between buying menstrual products or food at times. The result of the tampon tax denies millions of people the right to basic hygiene. Yet, period care items are classified as "luxury" and "non-essential," while items including Rogaine and Viagra are deemed a medical necessity and tax-free.
In May, period care brand August launched #TamponTaxBack to reimburse people for any tax paid on their tampon and pad purchases. The campaign is in partnership with the cashback app Aisle—once signed up to the app, customers can text August a photo of their receipt, and the brand reimburses the amount they paid in sales tax via Venmo or Paypal.
"We want to get to a place where customers don't expect to pay this tax, where the norm is that period products are tax-free." Nadya Okamoto, co-founder of August, told BeautyMatter at the time of the announcement. "If more private companies start doing this alongside us, that'll only give us more ammunition and more of a voice to be heard."
Fast forward to the International Day of the Girl Child in October 2023, Okamoto's wishes have formed into a powerful collective. Following the success of #TamponTaxBack, August announced The Tampon Tax Back Coalition—a group of brands including The Honey Pot, Rael, LOLA, Cora, DIVA, Here We Flo, and Saalt—working towards the abolition of tampon tax across the country. Now, menstruators who purchase products from any of these brands from a third party, whether online or in-store, will be reimbursed for the tampon tax at tampontaxback.com.
The coalition aims to change the way society sees periods, highlighting the risks of not being able to access necessary products, hoping to push the remaining states to anti-tampon tax legislation. Seven states currently have the legislation in place including Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Kentucky. In these states, it is illegal for retailers to absorb the tampon tax. Through the reimbursement program, consumers in the seven legislated states can also participate when purchasing through a third-party retailer.
"With this coalition, we are fostering a new ethos where industry competitors are becoming unlikely allies, joining forces not for profit but for equality," says Okamoto. "I've fought to end this unjust tax for over a decade—back when it was still active in 40 states. By locking arms with our period care competitors, this coalition is a powerful next step to hopefully abolish the tampon tax across the country and provide educational resources for menstruators."
The coalition highlights the important message that collaboration is more important than competition, and when coming together, the industry is a strong force. The co-founder confirmed that she has reached out to big-name brands including Tampax, Always, and U by Kotex, as part of a public call to action. Okamoto says the initiative will be a long-term commitment that she hopes will continue to grow and encourage other brands to join.
2 Article(s) Remaining