Group of women file lawsuit to end tampon tax in New York

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A group of women want to end what they consider an unfair tax on tampons in New York.

The class-action suit, filed Thursday against the State Department of Taxation and Finance, also seeks refunds for millions of women.

New York exempts medical items from sales tax.

The women point out that items like Rogaine, dandruff shampoo, foot powder, chapstick, facial wash, adult diapers and incontinence pads are not taxed, while tampons and sanitary pads are, calling it a double standard when defining medical items for women and men.

The five women are an actor and co-founder of Racket, a mathematician/data scientist, a programs coordinator for children's programs, a photographer, and a professor.

"It's time for New York to stop taxing women for being women," said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. "We hope this case will be the beginning of the end of the Tampon Tax in this country. This is a tax that is illegal, irrational, discriminatory, it's wrong."

"Tampons and sanitary pads are a necessity for women, not a luxury. There is no way these products would be taxed if men had to use them," said Zoe Salzman, another lawyer for the women.

"We thought how can this be - how can it be that the guy in line in front of us is buying his chapstick and Rogaine - and not paying taxes, and we are, it felt like a tax on women," said one of the plaintiffs, Laura Stausfeld.

According to court documents, women spend $70 a year on tampons and pads, and New York State collects $14 million.

last month even the president spoke out about the tax, saying during an interview he suspects men were behind those laws when they were made.

And last year Canada removed taxes on tampons and pads.

Attorneys in the case hope to do away with the tax and help make feminine hygiene, especially for low-income and homeless women.

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