In a major relief to women, New York State has banned the "tampon tax" levied on the variety of menstruation products — tampons, sanitary napkins and panty liners. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday (21 July) signed a legislation that will exempt all these products from state and local sales tax, saving women an estimated $10m (£7.6m) a year.
In New York, hygiene products for women have been taxable since 1965 when the first sales tax was instituted. But the taxation policy exempted some other "dietary and family planning products". New York has now become one of the first states "to join the movement to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax", a press statement announcing the new measure noted.
Linda Rosenthal, who introduced the bill in the state assembly in May 2015 along with state senator Sue Serino, had argued that products associated with menstruation are not "luxury items" and thus, should not be subject to sales tax.
Following the signing of the legislation, she said that women in the state "will no longer be burdened by a lingering tax that was levied at a time when women were not part of government and the decision-making process". The measure, which was approved by the state senate and assembly earlier in 2016, will be implemented in the next sales tax quarter.
"This is a regressive tax on essential products that women have had to pay for far too long and lifting it is a matter of social and economic justice," Cuomo was quoted in the press statement as saying. "I commend Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Serino on their strong advocacy and for hard work in passing this important legislation," he added.
Serino said, "This day is long overdue and I commend Governor Cuomo, as well as my colleagues in the Senate, for helping to finally make this tax a thing of the past. It is my hope that we can continue down the path of applying commonsense to our tax laws as we work to make our state more affordable for all New Yorkers."
"The tampon tax is regressive, and lifting it will spare all women the extra monthly burden of paying taxes on products that are already unaffordable to many," Rosenthal said.