PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The oft-lamented “tampon tax” is set to go away in Rhode Island, if the budget plan revealed late Friday night passes through the legislature.
House leaders’ rewrite of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s fiscal 2019-20 budget includes a new exemption from the 7% sales tax for “tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar products the principal use of which is feminine hygiene in connection with the menstrual cycle.”
Bills to exempt the tampon tax have been introduced multiple years in a row to no avail, but this year House leaders opted to include it in the budget, a sure sign that it’s headed for passage.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the move was made at the request of members of the Democratic caucus, who felt menstrual products should be considered necessities.
Other necessities like clothing and shoes, groceries and prescription drugs are also exempt from the sales tax in Rhode Island. But “grooming products” you’d find on the shelf at a drugstore are not exempt.
State Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Lou DiPalma, both Democrats, sponsored the bills in their respective chambers. The press release announcing the legislation asserted menstrual products are “not a luxury or an option.”
Ajello said it “amounts to a tax on being a woman.”
Several other states including Massachusetts have eliminated the tampon tax.
“I think that’s long overdue,” said Brianna Lueders of Providence. “They’re so expensive as they are, you know? I think anything we can do to make them more accessible and affordable for the general public is A-plus.”
House leaders also opted to eliminate the sales tax on funeral urns in the proposed budget. The two new tax exemptions would go into effect Oct. 1, reducing revenue by an estimated $700,000 from October through next June.
The budget also extends the sales tax to digital downloads and streaming services like iTunes or Netflix.