Sneed exclusive: Aldermen move to outlaw taxes on women’s hygiene products

SHARE Sneed exclusive: Aldermen move to outlaw taxes on women’s hygiene products
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Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald. Ed Burke (14th) will introduce an ordinance at the City Council meeting Wednesday outlawing a city sales tax on feminine hygiene products they consider a medical necessity for women. | Sun-Times file photo

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The tampon tax . . .

An ax to the city’s tampon tax?

Sneed has learned Ald.Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald.Ed Burke (14th)will introduce an ordinance at the City Council meeting Wednesday outlawing a city sales tax onfeminine hygiene products they consider a medical necessity for women.

The products: Sanitary pads and tampons.

“This is outrageous,” Burke said.“These products are a necessity for women, not some luxury which are classified now as grooming and hygiene products subject to city, state and regional taxes. Chicago needs to lead the way in eliminating this unfair tax.”

Hairston labeled the tax “discriminatory.”

“It’s the only product women are solely taxed on,” she said. “Removing the tax would help to make these products more affordable to women, especially poor women.”

“I was stunned when we learned these items were being taxed,” Hairston added.

“In 1989, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled tampons and sanitary napkins were considered medical necessities and not subject to tax,” Burke said. “But in 2009, some anonymous bureaucrat from the Illinois Department of Revenue reclassified the products making them subject to tax.”

“It makes you wonder what else is on the tax rolls that’s unfair to women,” Hairston said. “As chairman of the City Council Women’s Caucus, this is worth looking at.”

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“This issue is now a national one,” Burke added. “President Obama is behind efforts to exempt feminine hygiene products and expressed his support in January to get those taxes removed.”

•Upshot: The proposed city ordinance would amend the Municipal Code of Chicago by reclassifying tampons and sanitary napkins as “medical appliances,” which would exempt them from sales tax.

In addition, the two aldermen will propose a resolution urging the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Illinois General Assembly to also reclassify the items so as not to be subject to the city’s 1.25 percent sales tax and the state’s 6.25 percent general merchandise tax — as well as regional taxes, which add up to a whopping 10.25 percent.

“If the female members of the general assembly in Springfield knew what had happened there would be a revolt,” Burke said. “Legislators around the country are becoming aware of the unfairness existing for their female constituents when it comes to taxation.”

•Stat shot: Legislation is currently pending in the California State Assembly that would exempt tampons and sanitary pads from state sales tax; bills to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes have also been introduced in New York, Ohio, Utah and Virginia; and feminine hygiene products are already exempt from sales taxes in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Stay tuned.

Sneedlings . . .

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