What The Pink Tax is, and isn’t.
Subjects that have a lot of confusion around them attract me. I want to find the truth and I want to know what or sometimes who is at fault for the misunderstandings.
In the case of The Pink Tax, I have heard too many conflicting reports to ever hope to record them all. But most commonly, I’ve heard people say that The Pink Tax is the reason why there is a tax on feminine hygiene products like tampons, liners, pads, cups and douche.
The Pink Tax movement does count The Tampon Tax among it’s cumulative count of injustices, but we should all be able to address these issues more separately because they are different and have been spawned by different factors within society.
When you head into the HBC isle of a store and see the mens’ 12-in-1 products arranged artfully on one shelf and another 14 shelves dedicated to female products that say things like, ‘Eye Brow Volumizer’ and ‘Left armpit scrub’ – (I think I stole that from a comedian, credit to whoever it was, I can’t remember) – this is an example of women being expected by society not only to be more diligent about their body maintenance than men, but also to pay more for it.
When you see a package of black razors with a slogan like “Shaves Hair Good” for $4.99 and a package of pink razors with a slogan like, “Become the Silk” for $7.99, this is an example of marketing that will in the long run cost the average woman an extra $1351 each year.
If you think getting out of the HBC (Health and Beauty Care) isle will help you escape The Pink Tax, you should also know that if you see a simple sweatshirt, possibly with a line of colorful stitching or a nice label being sold specifically for women, it will undoubtedly cost more than the same sweatshirt designed to be sold to men. And the mens’ sweatshirt will have a pocket. *shakes fist angrily at the sky*
The Pink Tax is a manifestation of gendered and opportunistic marketing and you can fight against it by shopping for active ingredients instead of products, and by supporting brands that offer unisex or equally priced gendered items. Everyone is a fave of mine. They make a 32 ounce 3-in-one soap and the lavender, unscented and undeniably more masculine cedar wood scent all cost the same.
You can also check out the #axthepinktax hashtag and the website linked previously in this article to see what other brands are making waves.
Now, for the Tampon Tax.
The Tampon Tax is a Social Justice Issue. It’s a result of the longstanding misunderstand of female health and well-being by the people who make laws. But it is slowly being corrected.
Above is a screen shot from tax.ny.gov detailing the rules applicable in NY regarding the sale of feminine hygiene products and it and needs to be upheld by all New York Retailers.
As of 2016 the sale of Feminine Hygiene products IN NEW YORK is not subject to any sales or luxury taxation.
To see a map of the United States of America color coded to indicate their current status on the Tampon Tax, click this link. It was last updated in 2018 so hopefully a new map will be released soon. (California surprised me)
THIS is the real reason I wanted to write this post. THIS is something that all shoppers need to be aware of.
If you see feminine Hygiene products being sold and marked as a taxed item in NY, or another Tampon Un-Taxed State, you need to inform a shop employee.
Please do not do so aggressively. (More often than not, it’s a miss-marked item. Price guns are tricky and sometimes you don’t even notice that the little -tax- button is on.)
Just ask a shop employee if this item should be taxed, and ask to see if it rings up as a taxed item. If it doesn’t, then this small problem might be handled. The employee will see that the item has been marked incorrectly and hopefully will take the steps necessary to right the problem.
If the item does ring up as a taxed item, you can inform the employee or preferably a manager that in NY these items are considered a necessity. Like food. and therefore, not taxed.
Ideally the manager will be able to fix the mistake for you, but if they refuse or tell you that you are incorrect, you should head home and call Consumer Affairs.
Consumer Affairs is a department within the NYS government that regulates business owners on things like proper scale operation, correct taxation, and decent return policies.
You can file a complaint with them most simply by calling 311 and stating your intention to the operator. You can supply your contact info to create a formal complaint or you can just leave it anonymously and your info will be considered ‘A Tip’.
In my experience, the DCA follows up pretty promptly. They will head over to the store that might be breaking a rule and do a full inspection.
If by the time they arrive to do the inspection, there are still any issues with the way that company is doing business by State Government Standards, they will be corrected by the authority on the issue. They may have to pay a fine and/or make a few changes.
If you currently live in a state where tampons and pads are taxed, you should write to your local congress people or state reps, or reach out via the Pink Tax website to see what community efforts you can take part in.