SWFL wanting to axe the "tampon tax"

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 22:40:19-05

Ever heard of the tampon tax? Many southwest Floridians were surprised when Four in Your Corner told them about a tax they didn't even realize they were paying.

Florida's tax system exempts most health remedies like bandaids, lip balm, and nicotine patches, but if you're buying tampons, you're paying tax on them.

To be clear, this is not a separate tax solely for tampons.

It's a sales tax applied to all products the state doesn't consider necessities.

Many Florida women argue because there's no alternative to these items they have to purchase monthly, they're being forced to shell out more money simply for being women.

"We have our menstrual cycles every month. It's not any fault of ours, it's not a luxury, it's a necessity," Lindsay Smith said.

Financial expert with Waterstone Financial James Gallagher said some female items did escape taxation when Florida worked on it's tax code years ago.

"Even menstrual cramp relievers, the medicines you need to help with your period, are tax-exempt. Yet the other things you need, the feminine hygiene products, aren't," Gallagher said.

He said tampons and menstrual pads fell into a category called "toiletries and cosmetics," which are taxable.

"I was shocked. I was shocked. I just couldn't believe it. Like wow, really?" Smith said.

Canada, Australia, and five U.S. states have dropped the taxes on all menstrual products.

Gallagher said the state of Florida wouldn't lose much money if it followed suit.

"If you have a thousand dollars in your pocket, this would represent less than one penny in terms of the amount of tax we're talking about to the state revenue," he said.

Smith said it's worth dropping the tax since there is no tax-free alternative.

"What should I use, toilet paper? Or...? It's like, wow. You feel kind of slighted," she said.

The Press Secretary for Emily's List, a national women's political group, said women in office are leading the way to change this.

"Whether it's gender discrimination in pay, or having to pay more in necessities like tampons, this is another way where women face greater economic hurdles just for being women," Rachel Thomas said.

"I would absolutely, absolutely want to see it removed," Smith said.

Gallagher said if the tax is dropped, you probably won't notice much of a change in yoru wallet.

A petition already has more than 43,000 signatures.

Four in Your Corner's Lisa Greenberg has been reaching out to lawmakers to get their take on cutting the tampon tax and has only heard back from one, Representative Kathleen Passidomo, who asked for more clarification.