Banning pink tax could mean saving thousands on menstrual products

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Angie Perrin

A woman pulls a menstrual pad out of a box. The pink tax is seen in the pricing of different products that are advertised towards men and women. Photo by Shutterstock.

CVS recently announced it’s lowering the price of its store-brand menstrual products by 25% and will pay the sales tax on them in more than a dozen states. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in September prohibits companies from charging different prices on products based on the gender it's marketed towards.

The pink tax isn’t an intentional effort to discriminate against women, but it’s seen in the pricing of different products that are advertised towards men and women, such as razors, soaps, toys, and clothing, says Sarah Belle Lin, a retail reporter at Business Insider.

On average, Lin says women pay twice as much for products nearly half of the time, and men’s and women’s products are roughly equal in price about 40% of the time. Overall, she says women’s products are priced about 7% higher than men’s products. Her estimates come from a 2015 study conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

Lin points out that the pink tax is different from what’s known as the period tax or the sales tax that states, countries, and city governments collect when menstrual products are purchased.

CVS will pay the sales tax for menstrual products sold in its stores, such as tampons, sanitary pads, and period cups.

In California, Lin says that the state will exempt menstrual products from its sales tax laws following the passage of AB-1287.

She adds that she could one day see the U.S. following the footsteps of countries like Scotland, which have made menstrual products free.

“Lifetime costs of paying anywhere from $1,800 to $5,500 for tampons and sanitary pads could be saved. Women could be saving thousands of dollars over their lifetime if we see that happen here,” Lin says.