The president explains why tampons are taxed as “luxury items.”
In an interview with YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen, our commander-in-chief confessed ignorance when she asked him why in 2015 people in the United States were still paying a “luxury goods” tax on tampons. President Barack Obama acted on an impulse we have all had: He blamed men.
“I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items,” Obama told Nilsen. “I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
“I don’t know anyone who has a period that considers it a luxury,” Nilsen said.
In the United States, people pay tampon taxes in 40 states. During the past year, women in other parts of the world lodged protests against “tampon taxes,” or tax laws that classified tampons and other menstrual management products as “luxury items.” Some of these campaigns were successful—in Canada, for example, the tax was repealed. Others, like the campaigns in Australia and the U.K., failed at legislative change but sparked national conversations on the subject.
“I think it’s pretty sensible for women in those states … to work to get those taxes removed,” Obama told Nilsen.
There are efforts in some states to do exactly that. In California, where tampon taxes cost taxpayers $20 million annually, lawmakers introduced a bill this month that would reclassify menstrual management products as medical necessities.