In the News: Feminine hygiene products could be tax-free with SB 5147

From KEPR-TV, Pasco

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020

Click here for the video report

Feminine hygiene products could be tax-free with SB 5147

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Republican in Olympia is hoping the fifth time’s a charm.

Sen. Lynda Wilson (R – 17th District) says she’s been trying to pass a bill eliminating the tax on feminine hygiene products since 2015, also known as the pink or tampon tax

It’s part of a movement spearheaded by women who say they’re tired of paying taxes for products considered medically necessary. Simply because it doesn’t affect men.

“I started getting emails from women across the country and state that said, ‘Hey, we need to start talking about the pink tax’,”she says.

Five years ago Wilson first introduced her bill to the House, then again in the senate when she became a senator.

She says in Washington, medical supplies are tax-free and her bill removes the tax charged on many feminine products.

“The products themselves are medically necessary,” Wilson says. “It just happens to be that women use them exclusively.”

Student Nora McCarthy testified before the Ways and Means committee on Monday.

She asked around and says she’s discovered an alarmingly common misconception.

“That women can hold in their periods…like going to the bathroom,” McCarthy says. “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but women can’t hold in their flow. Menstrual products are a necessity.”

Over the years Wilson’s bills were overlooked or stalled, this time around the bill has made it further than ever before.

If passed SB 5147 will cost Washington $4.5 million in lost tax revenue.

This is money spent exclusively by women of child-bearing age.

Student Nicole Carpenter says she isn’t sure who wouldn’t vote for it.

“I can only assume the opposing argument is that the state needs revenue,” she says. “Makes me think, ‘is there really no way to compensate with this a state with one of the highest sales-tax rates in the nation’?”

Sen. Wilson says telling half the population their needs aren’t important is wrong.

She says so far 17 states have already stopped taxing women’s menstruation products.

“As a student looking at these 17 other states. I’m confused why it’s taking us so long to join the fight of the inherently discriminatory lack of action,” Carpenter says.

She says they’re hoping this will finally be their year.

Action News couldn’t find anyone willing to go on record as opposing SB 5147. We’re encouraging viewers to review it for themselves to form their own opinion: