Things Considered More Of A Necessity Than Tampons

by Caitlin Flynn

Being a woman can get very expensive quickly: Even if we're not following society's (very costly) expectations about how we should maintain our appearances, we're earning an average of 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes, and many items that we consider essential are deemed a "luxury" by the people who decide what products get taxed — like tampons, which are considered a taxable "luxury" item in 40 states.

Yes, apparently lawmakers believe that it's a "luxury" for a woman to not bleed all over her pants when she menstruates. I mean, buying tampons and pads is a nice splurge during that time of the month, am I right, ladies? Jokes aside, as everyone who's ever, you know, gotten their period would agree, it's not the most enjoyable experience. Cramps, aches, mood swings, and general discomfort are not exactly luxurious — in fact, they're pretty miserable. But that misery is compounded by the fact that when we visit our nearest pharmacy or grocery store to buy tampons or pads (which aren't cheap to begin with), we're taxed as though we're shelling out for a nice handbag.

As if that weren't frustrating enough, many states have some interesting ideas about what does count as a necessity. Let's take a look at some things that a few states consider to be more crucial to our survival and well-being than tampons and pads:

1. Candy (Multiple States And Washington D.C.)

Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. consider candy a tax-exempt grocery. So if you happen to get chocolate cravings during your period, I suppose this could be considered a bright side. But if your cramps make you lose your appetite — or you need to conserve your funds for those fancy pads — you're out of luck once again, sorry!

2. Circus Tickets (New York)

I haven't been to the circus since I was about five years old and I'm doing just fine, but perhaps I'm an unusual case, because tickets to live circus performances are tax-exempt in New York (although they draw the line at carnivals and rodeos). Another fun fact is that the state does charge tax for admission to museums, zoos, and aquariums, which are at least educational.

3. Hot Air Balloon Rides (Kansas)

If you've been dying to take a hot air balloon ride but been put off by that pesky sales tax, your next vacation destination should be Kansas. Hot air balloon rides tethered to the ground are subject to sales tax, but ones piloted "some distance downwind from the launching point" are tax-exempt. If we put our tampons "downwind from the launching point," would they be tax-exempt, too?

4. Cowboy Boots (Texas)

Don't mess with Texas' cowboy boots. Rubber boots and hiking boots are subject to sales tax, but cowboy boots are exempt.

5. Clarinet Lessons (Multiple States)

If your passion is piano or violin, you're out of luck. But if you've been dying to play the clarinet, you may be eligible for a deduction when tax season rolls around. This strange tax break is due to a 1962 case in which an orthodontist asserted that playing the clarinet can correct an overbite — which meant that clarinet lessons can count as a medical necessity. Wondering if there are any states that allow you to deduct tampons, pads, or other menstrual products on your taxes as a medical necessity? No dice.

6. Cow Rentals (Florida)

Most states offer tax exemptions for farmers and ranchers — which is a very fair rule. But thanks to the vague wording in Florida state law, property developers, including Disney World, are known to rent cows while they are building up land for future commercial use — because the presence of the cows means that the land can technically qualify as farmland, and developers don't have to pay the same property taxes they otherwise would.

7. Alcohol (Massachusetts)

Massachusetts license plates read "Spirit of America," which is appropriate: As of 2011, spirits and all other alcohol are tax-exempt there. There is a catch, though: If you purchase your liquor outside the state and bring it home to Massachusetts, you're breaking the law unless you obtain a permit in advance.

So if you need a stiff drink after reading about all the things considered more essential than menstrual products, I hope you live in Massachusetts!

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