Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a new law to eliminate the sales tax from feminine hygiene products and diapers. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a new law Thursday that will eliminate the state sales tax from feminine hygiene products and diapers. The tax break will take effect July 1, 2022.
The so-called “pink tax” removal, sponsored by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, is expected to cost the state $11.1 million annually for the next few years once it is implemented. It exempts both temporary menstrual products, like tampons, and reusable ones, like a menstrual cup, from the state sales tax rate of 4.45 percent. Cloth and disposable diapers would also no longer be subjected to the tax.
The new law also allows local governments who imposed a temporary exemption from local sales taxes on these products last year to make those tax breaks permanent. Freeman sponsored legislation in 2020 that allowed local governments to remove local sales taxes on these products last year, but the local governments were only allowed to offer the tax break until the middle of next year.
Now, the local sales tax breaks can stay in place indefinitely. New Orleans and Baton Rouge have already opted into the tax exemption.
The “pink tax” exemption received almost unanimous support in the Louisiana Senate, with only Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, voting against it.
The Louisiana House gave the proposal more trouble, passing it on a 63-36 vote. Several of the more conservative Republicans in the House, including Republican Caucus Chairman Blake Miguez, R-Erat, and Conservative Caucus Chairman Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, did not support the measure.
Proponents of the tax break argued that menstrual products and diapers should be treated like prescription medication, which is already exempt from the sales tax in Louisiana. Menstrual products and diapers are a medical necessity for women and families and the added sales tax makes the items more difficult for low-income people to purchase, they said.
Miguez opposed the legislation because he believes tax exemptions in general cause the sales tax rate overall to be higher. If the tax base for the sales tax was broader, then the rate could be lower and produce the same amount of money, he said.
“Louisiana current has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. The legislature should be looking for ways to lower that tax rate,” he said.
McFarland said there was a perception, among conservative lawmakers, that only New Orleans residents were concerned about the tax on menstrual products and diapers. Legislators hadn’t heard complaints from other parts of the state about the issue — and lawmakers weren’t pleased that it would cause an $11 million loss of tax revenue, he said.
There’s a national movement to eliminate the “pink tax” — but only one other Southern state has gotten rid of it so far, according to Marie Claire magazine. Florida eliminated the “pink tax” in 2018 as part of a broader tax package.
Democrats in the Louisiana Legislature had tried and failed to eliminate the “pink tax” in the past. Former Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, had brought the bill forward in previous years, but wasn’t able to get it out of the Louisiana House.
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