North Carolina Senate proposes bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

The North Carolina Senate filed a bill that would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Senate Bill 614, filed on April 7, would make feminine hygiene products more accessible and less costly to consumers.

The main sponsors of the bill include Senator Natasha Marcus (D) from Mecklenburg, Senator Natalie Murdock (D) from Durham and Senator Julie Mayfeild (D) from Buncombe. 

Feminine hygiene products are defined in the bill as “tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar tangible personal property designed for feminine hygiene in connection with the human menstrual cycle.” 

The bill makes an exception for items considered “grooming and hygiene products” which includes “soaps and cleaning solutions, shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, antiperspirants, suntan lotions, and sunscreens, regardless of whether the items meet the definition of “over-the-counter drugs.” 

As of April 7, the bill had been filed, passed first reading, and referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. This committee will then have the task to review the bill and consider whether or not it will be presented to the full body. 

If passed, this bill would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2021, and would apply to sales made on or after this date. 

North Carolina annually collects an estimated $8.1 million from the sales tax collected from feminine hygiene products, which accounts for roughly .01% of the state’s yearly revenue. Texas ($24.9 million/.01%) accounts for the highest, and North Carolina is second. 

According to Period Equity, an organization fighting for menstrual equality, 20 states have already exempted feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Defenders of bills like this claim that this tax is an injustice to women as they are necessary products and not “luxury” products like the other side has claimed.

Closer to home, the UNC Wilmington (UNCW) Student Government Association (SGA) recently started a pilot program to provide free feminine hygiene products on campus. Their proposal was officially sent to the respective administration a couple of weeks ago. 

“It’s going to start out as a pilot program, so our goal with this program is to be very inclusive, for it to be in every bathroom in every building,” said Balent at their Feb. 23 meeting. “However, just with funding and with nervousness that it’s not going to go well from other administrators and rightfully so [it’s starting as a pilot program].” 

“For the pilot program, the dispensers will just be placed in female restrooms. Our four locations for those restrooms are in the downstairs female restroom of the Fisher University Union, the Fisher Student Center, Randall Library, and Watson education building.”