As the Founder of Cora, a San Francisco-based startup offering premium organic tampons, and an advocate for global women’s rights, I’ve observed the genesis of the “tampon tax” opposition movement for over a year. I’ve followed California’s position on its own version of the tax, analyzing its effect on our business and our customers here.
What started in Europe as a grassroots movement has gained mainstream coverage internationally. In the U.S., male and female politicians alike have voiced their support for its repeal in their states. Even President Obama denounced the tax in an interview with Ingrid Nilsen on YouTube.
This is a blatantly gender-biased tax, and one of the few of its kind. As a woman, I feel outrage at the institutional misogyny this tax upholds and the inequality it perpetuates. To assert that a product as intimately tied to women’s’ health, wellbeing, and dignity as menstrual products is not a basic necessity like food or medicine is not just absurd, but also insulting, particularly when it is deemed as such by someone who will never need these products, or experience the pain of not having them.
Beyond the inherent sexism of the tax, there’s also real financial impact on women. California levies a 7.5% tax on tampons. A woman can expect to spend around $2000 on tampons in her lifetime, meaning she’ll pay an additional $150 in taxes alone for the “privilege” of the health and dignity afforded by menstrual products. Conversely, in many states, items like candy bars, Rogaine, and Viagra carry no tax at all.
As I was incited to create Cora after realizing that my household-name tampon brand contained pesticide residues and synthetics, I’m incited to take action to remedy the impact of this blatantly sexist and unjust tax.
Today, I’m announcing that we as a company will, from now on, pay the sales tax for all Cora customers in California.
That means any woman in California who purchases Cora’s organic tampons will pay only for the products, nothing more.
As an online business, we are not required to charge sales tax on our products when purchased by customers in other states. We would, however, be required to apply the tax to women in California because we operate there.
We decided to base our company in California because we believe in it’s progressive values and commitment to the health of its citizens. But we believe this tax is inconsistent with those values, and we cannot, in good conscience, follow California in wrongly burdening women this way.
State legislator Assembly Member Cristina Garcia introduced a bill that would end the tampon tax in California, but California governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill when it came before him in September.
I encourage every woman reading this to make herself aware of her own state’s tax policy for feminine products, to sign the Change.org petition in favor of abolishing the tax nationally, and to vocalize her right to these essential products. We hope that you will share this letter with the women in your life to help us spread awareness of this issue, and join the movement to make this sexist tax a policy of the past.
Yours in the movement for women’s health and equality,
Molly Hayward | Founder, Cora