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Governor Northam signs law slashing sales tax on tampons, diapers

RICHMOND, Va. — The sales tax on tampons, diapers and other personal hygiene products will be reduced by more than half beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he has signed SB 1715, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, and HB 2540, proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg. The bills will lower the retail sales and use tax rate on essential personal hygiene products to 2.5 percent.

The new law will apply to feminine hygiene products and nondurable incontinence products including diapers and other materials.

“We know that menstrual supplies and diapers are necessary to leave home for work, school, and social activities,” said Boysko, who called her bill the Dignity Act. “I am so glad we have made progress on the issue of menstrual equity and at long last will have tax relief for these products that women and families have to purchase.”

Currently, consumers pay the regular sales tax rate on these items: 7 percent in Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, James City County and York County), 6 percent in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, and 5.3 percent elsewhere in the state.

Byron said the law will benefit Virginians of all ages.

“This legislation won widespread bipartisan support because it provides tax relief on necessities used by women and men young and old,” Byron said. “For the young family buying diapers to those purchasing other essentials for their health, the savings because of this bill will add up and be appreciated.”

Northam commended the General Assembly for passing the bills.

“I am pleased to sign this common-sense legislation that makes these necessities more accessible and affordable,” he said. “The essential nature of personal health care products is not up for debate.”

The law will make these products subject to the state’s reduced sales tax of 1.5 percent, which currently applies only to food. In addition, local governments add a 1 percent sales tax on such purchases.

Boysko had wanted to remove the so-called “tampon tax” entirely. Byron pushed for a compromise on grounds that a tax exemption for personal hygiene products would have a big effect on the state budget.

By Emily Holter/Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.

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