Capitol Alert

Time for tax-free tampons? California lawmaker thinks so

It took less than a day to introduce an unlikely rallying cry for California’s 2016 legislative session: “Tampons for All.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, marked the first day back in Sacramento by tweeting that phrase to announce Assembly Bill 1561, which would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes. The exemption would apply to a range of products, including tampons and sanitary pads.

“I feel this is an important issue of social justice for all women out there,” said Garcia.

Garcia serves as vice chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, and she argued the bill ties into the group’s goal of closing the wage gap separating men and women.

“Here we are underpaid, every penny really matters, and every month we have a necessity we can’t control,” Garcia said. “We’re being taxed for being women.”

The bill would cost the state about $20 million in tax revenue, Garcia said. If it passes, tampons would join a list of products already exempt from sales and use taxes in California, including prescription medication, candy and farm equipment. A California bill to remove sales taxes for diapers stalled last year.

Applying those exemptions to tampons is not a novel concept. Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have all seen campaigns to repeal taxes on the sanitary products in the last year, with Canada voting to remove its levy as of mid-2015.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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