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After a years-long effort, Virginia will soon do away with a tax on menstrual products

Menstrual Products in Schools
Mike Stewart
/
AP
Menstrual products will no longer be taxed in Virginia beginning January 1, 2023.

Like many laws, the effort to get rid of the sales tax on menstrual products started as an idea. Holly Seibold read an article about women who can't afford pads and tampons, and then she reached out to lawmakers to see if she could get traction on ditching the tampon tax.

"We knew it was going to be hard because it was probably the first time that menstruation has ever been talked about in the halls of the General Assembly," she explains. "And we get down there and I have my speech. I'm ready to share it. We speak in front of the committee."

The bill was introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat from Herndon who was in the House of Delegates at the time. Her strategy was to call it the Dignity Act so she could avoid talk of menstruation.

"There was one amendment made to that bill. It was to strip the name the Dignity Act from the bill, and then they killed it," Boysko says.

Seibold and Boysko didn’t give up. They tried the year after that and the year after that and the year after that with no success — until Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned on eliminating the grocery tax. That gave advocates an opening, and they struck a deal: eliminate the sales tax on menstrual products while also eliminating the state share of the grocery tax.

"After six years of effort, the tampon tax has finally been eliminated," says Seibold.

Starting New Year's Day 2023, Virginia will have no sales tax on menstrual products.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.