That's right! Today is National Period Day!
Thirty states in the U.S. maintain a tax on period solutions products because they are considered “non-essential goods”. Wyoming is one of the 30 states that still taxes period products.
Wyoming state statute currently exempts from sales tax "purchases of food for domestic home consumption”—along with more than fifty other products. Tampons and related products are not among the myriad exemptions.
Like many states, Wyoming’s tax exemptions include a seemingly random assortment of products. A small glimpse of what goes untaxed in other states exemptions: donuts in Michigan; cotton candy in Iowa; chewing gum in West Virginia; private jet parts in Colorado. Our neighbor to the north, Montana, does not tax tampons. And TaxFree. Period. has you covered if you want to know what other funny business isn't taxed across the country.
The tampon tax forces women to pay this additional tax simply because we menstruate. Which is not only unfair—especially when taken in combination with the gender wage gap which already leaves women at an economic disadvantage—but also discriminatory.
The plaintiffs rightly hold that menstrual hygiene products are medical necessities—a point the federal government recently made in the language of the CARES Act—and therefore it is unlawful to tax them, particularly because those who menstruate don’t do so by choice.
“The State cannot make sex a determining factor in the application of Michigan’s sales and use taxes,” the complaint reads. “In administering and enforcing the (”tampon tax”), the (state Treasury) maintains a tax on women.”
Attitudes toward menstruation are outdated, yet the stigma—and economic impact—continue to be very real. The average woman has her period for 2,535 days of her life, yet it continues to be a barrier to women’s equality.
The lack of access to period products, due to economic factors, is often referred to as “period poverty”. It might seem unbelievable that period poverty has real and daily impacts on girls and women in the United States in 2020. It can be especially damaging at puberty, when school interactions are crucial to a girl's development—and girls may miss out on parts of their education because of period poverty.
If you haven’t heard of period poverty before, here are a few key statistics:
Almost 25 million women live below the poverty line in the U.S., yet menstrual products are not covered by food stamps (SNAP) or Medicaid.
Nearly 2/3 of low-income women can't afford menstrual hygiene products according to a recent study.
Nearly 1 in 5 American girls has missed school due to lack of period protection.
Here are some easy ways that you can help:
Period products are just as essential as toilet paper and soap. Ensure that all women and girls across the Equality State have free access to these hygiene items in schools, businesses, and public buildings!
(In Teton County, the Period Project—a partnership of the church, the hospital, the food cupboard, and dedicated individuals—is helping business owner and community organizations access free and low-cost options to make period products available to employees, customers, and guests.)
Let members of the Wyoming Legislature know you support the guarantee of equal protection under the law and they should support the US Constitution by repealing the tampon tax.
(Side note: Other than this very specific equity-related tax repeal, WWAN stands in support of modernizing Wyoming’s tax structure—and you should, too. Wyoming’s fiscal future is dire, and we all need to participate by stepping up and paying taxes. As the Wyoming Taxpayers Association says: When you don’t pay, you don’t pay attention.)
Get involved! Do it today!
(For example: The Teton County Tampon Team will be out on the Town Square starting at 10am this morning spreading information and handing out period products. Visit St. John’s Health Foundation or St. John’s Episcopal Church for more information about their great work. For info about what's happening near you, check your local calendar.)
And do what you can to break the stigma around menstruation. Girls across the community, the state, and the nation are depending on it.