Thursday, January 28, 2016

Taxing tampons

An awesome feature of this country, which has been home for this argumentative Indian for nearly thirty years, is this--it is one arguing society.  The arguments challenge the status quo, some more revolutionary than others.

Consider this: most states have sales taxes.  But, almost all the states exempt some goods from sales tax.  While the list of exemptions vary across the states, the general idea is that some fundamental necessities will not be taxed.  No tax on bananas, for instance.

Which is when the debate begins. When does a good become a "necessity"?  

It is not easy answering that question, dear reader.  Which means we set ourselves up for a great deal of argument.  It is a fascinating country!

How about female hygiene products?  You know, sanitary napkins, tampons, ... are they necessities or luxuries?
If you are or know women, you know that menstruation is for most not an optional thing. Yet in the vast majority of states in the US, tampons and pads are subject to sales tax.
"Tampons (and similar products) are tax-exempt in only a handful of states"

So, what might be a problem with freeing tampons from sales tax?
[The average] American spends less than half of his or her income on items subject to sales tax. In California, the sales tax is already narrower than the national average, applying to just 27 percent of state residents’ incomes.
Sales tax bases have shrunk over time partly because states have created new exemptions, partly because untaxed online sales have expanded, but most of all because the economy increasingly consists of services.
And when the economy does not do well?
Sales taxes that exclude necessities and services tend to end up relying heavily on restaurant meals and durables like electronics and furniture, which are categories of spending that consumers cut back on when the economy weakens. This makes sales tax receipts more volatile, worsening the budget crises that arise in recessions.
That's a tad convoluted for most people; in plain-speak, please:
That is, one advantage of keeping the sales tax on tampons is that people will buy them whether the economy is good or bad
What a horrible way to address menstruation!

At least in the US women have access to such hygiene products and at low prices.  In many developing countries, girls attending schools becomes a major problem, and providing them with these products does wonders not only for girls' education but for their self-esteem too.

To me, well, there is no argument here: the sales of tampons and sanitary napkins should not be taxed.  But then who listens to me anyway!

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