Could Ohio End 'Pink Tax' on Feminine Hygiene Products?

A bill by Cincinnati Democrat State Rep. Brigid Kelly eliminating state sales tax on items like tampons passed the Ohio House today 84-1. Next, it heads to the state Senate.

click to enlarge State Rep. Brigid Kelly - Ohio House of Representatives
Ohio House of Representatives
State Rep. Brigid Kelly

Are you tired of paying (or watching women pay) the so-called “pink tax” on products related to feminine hygiene? It may be going away if a local lawmaker’s bill gets through the state Senate and gets the governor’s signature before the year is over.

The bill to eliminate state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products introduced by Cincinnati’s State Rep. Brigid Kelly passed the Ohio House today during the so-called end-of-year “lame duck” session.

Ohio’s sales tax is 5.75 percent, plus whatever local sales taxes get heaped on top of it. In Hamilton County, that adds up to a sales-tax rate of 7 percent.

Being able to forego that tax on things like tampons and other items could save women more than $600 over the course of their lives, Kelly and fellow Democrat and bill co-sponsor State Rep. Greta Johnson estimate.

A legislative analysis of the bill found that women spend roughly $78 million on such hygiene products every year. Ohio would lose about $4.5 million in sales tax revenues should Kelly’s bill become law, that analysis found.

Kelly’s bill, House Bill 61, received some Republican support but stalled earlier this year until Republican State Rep. Steve Arndt agreed to roll it into his sales-tax bill, HB 545, which would give small businesses extra time to pay state sales taxes. The combined legislation passed 84-1. 

Ten other states have eliminated taxes on items like tampons, including Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

"Having a period is perfectly normal and natural and we need these products for our everyday lives, so to exempt them from the sales tax is a really practical thing we can do for women in our state," Kelly said of the legislation earlier this year.

The sole “no” vote was also a Cincinnati-area lawmaker. Republican State Rep. Tom Brinkman, a staunch conservative known for taking controversial stands on a number of issues, voted against HB 545.

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