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Menstrual Hygiene Products

February 2, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Menstrual hygiene products are considered luxury items, not necessities, and are not exempted from sales tax. The current tax in Missouri on such products is 4.2%, however, HB 1971, HB 2241, HB 2257, and HB 2272  propose to bring the tax down to 1.2%. Low-income menstruating individuals of all ages struggle to afford menstrual hygiene products. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs (SNAP) and SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) do not allow the purchase feminine hygiene products. Single-use disposable feminine hygiene products are selected by agencies for resource-poor environments and do not typically offer reusable products that may be more cost-effective long-term.

Highlights

  • Poverty disproportionately affects women and ethnic minorities.
  • Between 2017 and 2018, of 183 female survey responses from a St. Louis report, almost 50% of the women surveyed could not afford to buy both feminine hygiene products and food.
  • While the initial cost of reusable feminine hygiene products is greater than disposable products, reusable products may reduce the costs associated with menstruation over time - including environmental and sustainability costs.
  • As of 2021, five states (AK, DE, MT, NH, and OR) have no sales tax; fifteen¬† states (CA, CT, FL, IL, MA, MD MN, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, WA) and Washington, D.C., exempt menstrual feminine hygiene products from sales tax.

Limitations

  • States vary in how much revenue may be lost as it depends on the population and number of people who purchase menstrual hygiene products.
  • Currently, there are no available reports from non-profit organizations or agencies (including schools and correction centers) involved in supplying feminine hygiene products about¬† how distributing reusable period products may impact long-term costs. Therefore, it is unknown the extent to which reusable products can reduce overall costs associated with menstruation.

 

This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version (published February 2021) here.

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