Gov. Brown Vetoes Sales Tax Exemptions on Tampons, Diapers

SACRAMENTO -- Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed two bills that would have eliminated the sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products like tampons and menstrual cups in California.

Proponents of the bills argue that sales tax on things like diapers or tampons creates an unfair barrier for people who have no choice but to buy the products.

Supporters of AB 1561 argue that taxing tampons unfairly penalizes women because they have periods and need to use these products.

Currently, most states tax most personal tangible property. However, some make exceptions for necessary non-luxury items like prescription medicines. California currently does not tax Viagra.

Governor Jerry Brown said in a letter that he could not support the bill and a bundle of other bills he vetoed, because the loss of taxes from those purchases would cost the general fund too much money.

Read Brown's statement here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19534

In his veto message, Gov. Brown wrote that the two bills, among others, would have reduced state revenue by about $300 million.

Both AB 717 and AB 1561 were unanimously approved by lawmakers.

State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, who authored the bill said feminine hygiene products were the only items taxed in California that imposed a charge on women specifically because of their reproductive organs.

"I think we need to re-think the tax codes in California, re-think what is a luxury and what is a necessity. What's so disappointing is that the public is asking for something and the Governor doesn't agree with it, or he didn't do his homework, or whatever the case is," Garcia said.

Twin sisters Rachel and Helen Lee travelled all the way from Los Angeles to Sacramento to celebrate the passage of AB 1561 Tuesday, only to arrive and learn that the bill had instead been vetoed. They launched an online petition that gathered over 24,000 signatures in favor of repealing the tampon tax.

"We were pretty angry and pretty disheartened. It was one of those moments where you're like, come on California," Lee said.

Assemblymember Garcia said she planned to re-introduce the bill again next year.

Five other states -- Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts -- have already eliminated sales tax on tampons and similar products. Other states like Oregon, Montana, New Hampshire and Delaware have no sales tax at all.

Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont have also eliminated sales tax on diapers.