Nevada LegislatureSocial Justice

Nevada Legislature Tackles “Pink Tax” with SB 415 and AB 402

Remember the “pink tax”? This refers to the inequity women face in pricing of consumer products. The most notorious “pink tax” is the sales tax charged on feminine hygiene products.

Two bills in the Nevada Legislature offer Silver State women relief from perhaps the most onerous “pink tax”. I watched the hearing for one of them, then the press conference for the other.

Since our previous “pink tax” conversation, AB 402 and SB 415 have been introduced in the Nevada Legislature. The Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee held its hearing on SB 415 last week, and the Assembly Taxation Committee held its hearing on AB 402 yesterday. One of the SB 415’s sponsors gave a crash course on historical gender bias in tax policy to explain why she brought forth her bill.

“It’s the 21st century. It’s time to acknowledge feminine hygiene products are not a luxury. They’re a necessity.” – Senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas)

Fellow SB 415 sponsor Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson) explained how SB 415/AB 402 will work if the Legislature passes one of them. Due to a 1955 sales tax law, the proposal ultimately goes to the voters in 2018. If voters approve SB 415, a sales tax exemption on feminine hygiene products will go into place and last through December 31, 2028. If voters approve AB 402, the same holds for feminine hygiene products and diapers.

During testimony, supporters in Las Vegas and Carson City asked why Nevada women must be subjected to a fiscal double standard. Why are various other products exempt from sales tax, but not maxi pads or tampons?

Photo by Andrew Davey
“If men don’t have to be taxed for their nocturnal emissions, I shouldn’t be taxed for having a uterus.” – Alma Hernandez, Las Vegas

Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates’ Elisa Cafferata followed that up with a blunt statement of her own: “Pads are taxed. Peeps, candy, are not. It’s time to change that.” She said that while presenting maxi pads that Nevada Advocates will be donating to a local food bank… And receipts for the maxi pads that they will be donating to legislators who question the need for SB 415.

Fortunately for the feminist activists supporting SB 415, there was limited opposition. In fact, no one testified against the bill in Las Vegas. And in Carson City, the Nevada Taxpayers Association and the Retail Association of Nevada mainly complained about all the exemptions currently in Nevada tax law as they warned against making the sales tax more byzantine.

Otherwise, the SB 415 was pretty quick and easy for supporters. Before she adjourned the hearing, the Chair of Senate Revenue had some advice for supporters.

“I’m so happy to see so many young women interested in tax policy.” – Senator Julia Ratti (D-Sparks)
Photo by Andrew Davey

So was Assembly Member Sandra Jauregui (D-Henderson) when activists showed up yesterday for her AB 402 press conference. She explained how savings of $78 per month on diapers can make a major difference for Nevada families earning poverty wages. “$78 is a huge impact. It could be a week’s worth of groceries.”

Jauregui stated this is why she’s pushing for passage of AB 402. For her, the additional sales tax exemption on diapers can make even more of a difference for Nevada’s working moms. When 30% of Nevada women currently can’t afford a sufficient amount of diapers for their infants, she and activists feel that amounts to a crisis.

“This isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue. […] This is an issue for working families. When women do better, families do better.” – Assembly Member Sandra Jauregui

Jauregui expressed hope Governor Brian Sandoval (R) will sign AB 402 into law, especially as it ultimately leaves the final decision up to voters next year. Both tax committees only have one more week to move on SB 415 and AB 402.

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