Momentum builds to get rid of ‘Tampon Tax’ in Virginia

There's growing support behind three bills to get rid of the sales tax on feminine hygiene products in Virginia.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — There’s growing support behind three bills to get rid of the sales tax on feminine hygiene products in Virginia.

Several women’s groups, feeling empowered by the #MeToo movement, are lobbying state lawmakers arguing the personal products women need every month should be treated like other necessities that are not taxed, including medicine and eyeglasses.

The sales tax, which is 6 percent in Hampton Roads, adds up to about $0.54 on a $9 package of pads.

Now three bills before the General Assembly would do away with that tax.

Shanise Williams, founder of Close-Knit Community Coalition in Hampton Roads, says it’s about time women get menstrual equity.

“That should be something you have accessible to you at all times, I honestly think they should be free.”

Opponents argue it would cost Virginia upwards of $4 million a year.

Williams suggests taxing the male sexual enhancement drug Viagra instead.

She’s ready to fight.

“If the Boston Tea Party could boycott their tea tax then women need to come together and maybe we need to take our monthly trips to Delaware, where there aren’t taxes on tampons, stock up then, and make sure we are looking out for our sisters here in Hampton Roads,” Williams said.

Nine states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and Washington D.C. have exemptions.

Five other states have no sales tax. They are: Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon.

Other states are also considering exemptions as women’s movements are providing momentum for change.

“They’ve opened up a can of worms and the can of worms can’t be closed.” Williams said.

The bills:

HB 152, introduced by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax
HB 24, sponsored by Del. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, who dubbed it “The Dignity Act”
HB 448, filed by Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico

They have been sent to the House Finance committee along with a fourth bill, HB 25, that would include feminine hygiene products in the back to school sales tax holiday.