D.C. lifts sales tax for feminine hygiene products, but excludes diapers


By: Mion Edwards

Yesterday, the Council of D.C. announced effective October 1, 2018 there will be no sales tax on feminine hygiene products, a victory for women’s equality in D.C. However, the act does not include the exclusion of sales tax on diapers as the Amendment Act of 2016 stated.

The ”Feminine Hygiene and Diapers Sales Tax exemption Amendment Act of 2016” was introduced on April 5, 2016 by Councilmember at-large Anita Bonds, Councilmembers Mary M. Cheh, Vincent Orange, Charles Allen, Brianne K. Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, former Councilmembers LaRuby May, Yvette M. Alexander, and co-sponsor for the bill Councilmember Brandon Todd. The bill passed with unanimous support.

“The ability to keep oneself clean and one’s children clean is necessary for human dignity,” Cheh said in a previous statement about the effort.

“Research in this area has shown that the inability to meet these needs can have significant health and economic consequences —consequences that disproportionately affect low-income women and children.”

The process for enacting the bill took two years. At the public hearing for the bill on September 28, Bonds said, “The products defined in this bill are basic necessities. It would help alleviate some of the financial burden for lower income families and women.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Feminine Hygiene and Diapers Sales Tax Exemption Amendment Act of 2016 on December 6, 2016. The bill was then transmitted to Congress on January 6, 2017.

Muriel Bowser’s 2019 Fiscal Budget shows it will be partially funded. However, a provision of the bill that would have also exempted diapers was not funded.