Tampon tax: Does being female in the US carry unfair costs?

NEW YORK (AP) – In New York, medical necessities that aren’t subject to sales tax include lip balm, foot powder and dandruff shampoo. But not tampons and sanitary napkins.

Nationwide, 40 states tax feminine hygiene products, deeming them non-necessities or even “luxury items,” while making exceptions for products as similar as adult incontinence pads.

But a national push to abolish the tax is gaining steam.

This year, six states are considering legislation, and five New York City women filed a lawsuit last week arguing the tax violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Cosmopolitan magazine launched an online petition, and even President Barack Obama has questioned why the items are taxed.

The idea has met some resistance, with Utah lawmakers voting it down last month. But advocates feel they’re gaining ground.

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