Tampon tax break faces resistance in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to include feminine hygiene products during Tennessee’s annual sales-tax holiday faced resistance Tuesday from lawmakers concerned about the lack of limit on on such purchases.

The legislation is the latest evolution of a push to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax” on items such as tampons and menstrual pads.

The bill would allow these products to be tax free during Tennessee’s three day weekend where certain goods — ranging from $1,500 computers to $100 clothing items — can be purchased tax free. The weekend is held the last Friday in July, when most families are preparing for the new school year.

However, Republicans inside the GOP-dominant Statehouse have pushed back against such proposals to remove the “tampon tax” over the years.

“I would think since it’s a sales tax holiday, there’s really no limit on the number of items anybody can purchase,” said Sen. Joey Hensley, a Republican from Hohenwald, while debating against the bill Tuesday. “I don’t know how you would limit the number of items someone could purchase.”

According to the bill’s fiscal impact, women spend approximately $120 a year on feminine hygiene products.

Tennessee’s current sales tax is 7%, which means the the proposal is estimated to cost the state approximately $132,700 annually.

“It’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have, there are some young girls who use rags and cloths because they can’t afford these products and we should not allow our young girls to be submitted to this humiliation,” said Democratic Sen. Brenda Gilmore of Goodlettsville.

The Republican-controlled hearing originally was prepared to give the bill a negative recommendation during Tuesday’s hearing but held off to give the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sara Kyle, more time to address questions about the funding.

Advocates say 10 U.S. states have eliminated their so-called tampon tax. Kenya became the first country to do so more than a decade ago and nations including Canada and India have followed.

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