TEXAS — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, extended their support in eliminating state and local sales tax on feminine hygiene products.
Twenty-four states have already removed taxes on menstrual products. Past proposals to repeal the “Tampon Tax” in Texas have continuously fallen short. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, has led the charge every session since 2017, but the bill has only made it as far as the governor’s desk.
Huffman and Hegar expressed their backing of the initiative on Thursday, Aug. 19. However, new legislation is needed and it won’t be final until the 2023 legislative session.
“As chair of Senate Finance, I am proud to make this effort one of my priorities,” Huffman said. “Every woman knows that these products are not optional. They are essential to our health and well-being and should be tax exempt.”
Now, Hegar’s support of this effort comes as a surprise and quite ironic to some who see this as just merely pandering given the scope of women’s health in Texas. In a Texas Tribune article, a coalition of youth-led groups sought the help of pro bono attorneys at Baker Botts LLP, a Houston-based law firm, to challenge the Comptroller’s office. Upon finding menstrual products listed as “wound care dressings,” according to the tax code, the group asked for tax refunds.
In February, the comptroller’s office rejected the refund request. The group filed an appeal, requesting a hearing. They had plans to take this to court if denied again.
Hegar had this to say, though, when announcing his support of the repeal.
“Taxing these products is archaic, and it is time for Texas to join the 24 states that already exempt tampons and other feminine hygiene products from sales tax,” Hegar said. “Our economy and state revenues are strong, and Texans are grappling with inflation and challenging price increases on everyday goods. These circumstances provide a tremendous opportunity to rectify this issue and exempt these products that represent a critical need for Texas women. I want to thank Sen. Huffman for her leadership and for taking bold and decisive action for the women of Texas.”
According to the comptroller's office estimates, feminine hygiene products' sales tax would generate about $28.6 million annually during the next biennium. Hegar released his latest revenue estimate for the current biennium in mid-July, projecting an ending balance for the biennium of $27 billion.
“This is the right thing to do for Texas women,” Huffman said. “I thank Comptroller Hegar for working with me on this effort and look forward to working with him and my legislative colleagues to ensure we craft legislation that garners broad support.”
If this effort falls flat again, a Baker Botts attorney said they could make a gender discrimination argument, given that male libido enhancers and other gender-neutral products, like Band-Aids, aren’t taxed.