Texas collects almost $30 million annually—far more than any other state—on the sale of period products, a practice the Comptroller has called “archaic.” This session, the end of this practice is in sight. Texas’ actions may help bring about the end of the tampon tax in the 21 additional states where it still exists.
Governor Abbott (R), Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Senator Joan Huffman (R) have all voiced support for ending the tampon tax. Hegar called the taxing of these items “archaic” and said it’s time “to rectify this issue.” Huffman acknowledged these products are “not optional” and “essential to women’s health and well-being.”
Bipartisan House Bill 300 exempts menstrual products from tax, along with diapers, baby bottles, breastfeeding devices, maternity clothing, and other “family care products.”
Period Law, the nonprofit group of lawyers dedicated to ending the tampon tax nationally since 2016, celebrates HB300 sponsor Representative Donna Howard (D), who has introduced tampon tax repeal bills every session since 2017. Period Law has been working on this issue in Texas since that time, too, including through its 2019 Tampon Tax Protest, which flooded the Comptroller’s office with demands for tax refunds.
“Texas should’ve never taxed these items to begin with,” said Period Law Executive Director Laura Strausfeld, noting that Texas exempts bandaids, incontinence pads, sunscreen, and many other items from sales tax. “It took protests, a lawsuit, and a deeply dark moment for women’s health in Texas to get us to this point, but we nonetheless enthusiastically celebrate this rare bipartisan win for Texas women.”
Period Law is partnering with the youth-powered nonprofit PERIOD. and CVS Health to eliminate the unfair sales tax on period products in the remaining 22 states. In Texas, the law firm Baker Botts has filed a lawsuit challenging the tax as unconstitutional. With the assistance of volunteer attorneys from around the country, including a core team from WilmerHale, Period Law has helped reduce the number of “tampon-taxing” states from 40 in 2016 to 22 today.
Period Law, PERIOD., and other advocacy and legal partners are working to make significant progress this session. Already, seven states have held hearings on tampon tax repeal this year. In Arizona as well as Texas, exemption has passed the House. Just one day after HB300 was passed by oral vote in Texas, South Carolina’s Ways and Means Committee passed their version. In Georgia and South Dakota – where HB1159 was the first repeal bill ever introduced – young female legislators led spirited debates and presented moving testimony about periods in majority-male rooms.
Menstrual products are medically necessary. The FDA categorizes them as Class I and Class II medical devices. The CARES Act allows reimbursement of menstrual care products as qualified medical expenses through various tax-advantaged accounts (HSAs, Archer MSAs, Health FSAs, and HRAs).
“It’s time to prioritize women’s health and change antiquated policies that are being overlooked because representation at “the table” isn’t reflective of the demographic composition of our society,” stated Lisa White, Director of Strategy & Operations for Period Law.