Many state and local governments exclude some medical products from the sales tax base, including some that are primarily used by men such as hair growth products. However, tampons and other menstrual hygiene products are subject to sales taxes in most states. A recent social movement advocates for the repeal of these “tampon taxes” and several class action lawsuits have been filed against states citing equal protection violations. In this article, we use the 2005 elimination of menstrual hygiene products from the sales tax base in New Jersey as a natural experiment to study who benefits from the repeal of tampon taxes. We find that the tax break is fully shifted to consumers, but that the tax break is not distributed equally. Low-income consumers enjoy a benefit from the repeal of the tax by more than the size of the repealed tax. For high-income consumers, the tax break is shared equally with producers. The results suggest that repealing tampon taxes removes an unequal tax burden and could make menstrual hygiene products more accessible for low-income consumers.
Christopher A. Cotropia & Kyle Rozema, Who Benefits from Repealing Tampon Taxes? Empirical Evidence from New Jersey, 15 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 620 (2018).