Lawsuit filed looking to end Florida's tampon tax

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By: Julie Montanaro
July 15, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- We had a chance to sit down Friday with a woman who is taking the state of Florida to court for its tax on tampons.

Carlee Wendell filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court last week.

She wants the state to stop taxing tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene items, saying that the tax discriminates against women.

Wendell points out that Rogaine - a hair growth foam for men - is tax exempt, but these essential items are not.

"I don't have the luxury of not using them. I don't have the luxury of saying this month I'm not using anything. That's not an option. They're necessary," Wendell said. "I don't ... I can't see the other side."

Wendell wants a judge to issue an injunction to stop the state from collecting the tax, order the state to give women a rebate of the taxes they've paid on feminine hygiene products over the past three years, and she wants lawmakers to pass a new law making the products tax exempt.

Similar suits have been filed in several states including California and New York.

Wendell runs a nonprofit called FLOW, For the Love of Women. It collects feminine hygiene projects for women at homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.

She says she only recently discovered the products were being taxed.

"I didn't really realize I was being taxed on it and to be honest about it ... I was mad," Wendell said. "So when I found out, I was obviously upset about it and wanted to do something about it."

By: Matt Galka | Capitol News Service
July 12, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- We might take it for granted when things like band-aids, lip balms, and cough drops are tax exempt. But women around the state are asking for the same treatment for feminine products they say are necessary to live healthy lives.

Guys, maybe you don’t think about it as much as women do, and maybe women don’t think about it when they’re buying them, but there’s a tampon tax in Florida. And now a Hillsborough County woman has filed a lawsuit looking to get rid of it.

Tallahassee lawyer Dana Brooks is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff.

“Female sanitary products, tampons, pads, stuff like that, used almost exclusively for women, are taxed and have been taxed, and so we feel like that is discriminatory on its face. It obviously affects women disproportionately,” she said.

Three state agencies have been named in the suit as well as WalMart, Walgreens, Target, Publix, and CVS.

Barbara DeVane with the National Organization for Women supports the lawsuit. She says it’s absurd that tampons are being taxed and other products aren’t.

“If you can exempt bunion pads, why not menstrual pads? Petroleum jelly, wart removers, and for heaven’s sakes, ostrich feed. There are more women than ostriches in the state of Florida,” she said.

Brooks says the products are a necessity.

“It’s a public hygiene and safety issue that is being disproportionately, these costs are being taken on by women,” she said.

The class action suit is seeking money for women who have bought the products in the past three years.

The attorney in the lawsuit told us that she hopes the legislature will act and repeal the tax. The New York state legislature recently repealed the tax on feminine hygiene products, and California has a similar lawsuit pending.

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