The tax on feminine hygiene products, known as the tampon tax, was first abolished by Minnesota in 1981. Since then, 20 other states have followed suit - excluding such products from state sales taxes.
Iowa joins these ranks as a bill passed unanimously through the legislature to exclude feminine hygiene products as well as diapers from state taxes.
“It’s about time we stopped paying taxes on menstrual products,” Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne said. “Every three weeks you’ve got to be prepared. It’s costly. This is a health care issue. Having your period is health care.”
According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, 1 in 4 people struggle to purchase period supplies due to lack of income. This is called period poverty.
“I’m always explaining to my husband how much it costs to be a woman,” Axne said. “We have more expensive dry cleaning, extra products for styling and health care. Women are paying more for everything.”
One in four Iowa teens have said they have missed class due to not having access to period products. One in seven Iowa women aged 12-44 lives under the federal poverty line.
Axne said a big reason for the excessive cost for women has to do with the world not being created for women. “We need more women engineers, architects, doctors,” she listed.
The bill is prepared to take affect as the United States is facing a shortage of tampons. Suppy chain issues have caused issues for stores to meet demand.
The other facet to the bill includes the removal of diapers from the clothing classification for taxation purposes. Cloth and disposable diapers for kids and adults will be excluded from state sales tax.
“My goodness, as a mom of two boys that were 9 pounds, I know the cost of diapers,” Axne said. “I know how many diapers are being used. It’s expensive.”
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families experience diaper need. The economic impact of the pandemic and rising inflation has exacerbated the ongoing problem.
Axne said exempting diapers from taxes is a great way to help Iowa families make ends meet.
In Iowa, 73% of mothers with infants are in the workforce.
Of 435 members of the House of Representatives, Axne said there are less than 20 moms with children still in school. “We are trying to make some changes because we are new voices for this country,” she said. “We understand being moms and working women at the same time.”