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Senate Finance & Tax Appropriations Committee OK’s ‘tampon tax’ exemption

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A bill to repeal the so-called “tampon tax” cleared another hurdle, passing a key Senate appropriations committee Wednesday.

The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee approved a proposal (SB 176) to make feminine hygiene products, like tampons, exempt from state sales and use tax. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, now heads to the full Appropriations Committee.

Only a handful — including Maryland, including Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — have created a tax exemption for these products, according to a June report by the Council of State Governments. That report noted the national push to create a tax exemption comes “amid criticism the tax unfairly affects women.”

Supporters of the efforts have argued the products should “be treated like other medical necessities, which are currently tax exempt in most states.”

In December, Passidomo said she filed the bill because it was “a common sense issue.”

“Florida imposes a sales tax on luxury items,” the Naples Republican said in a statement at the time. “These products are certainly not a luxury but a basic necessity and as such, we should stop taxing them.”

That’s also what prompted Rep. Katie Edwards to file a bill (HB 63) to repeal the tax. The Plantation Democrat filed the bill in November, and said she decided to do it after listening to a debate about a wide-ranging tax cut package last year and receiving “periods are not luxury emails.”

“It’s not something you choose,” she told FloridaPolitics.com in December. “It’s just something that a lot of consumers and taxpayers need and purchase.”

If approved, the Revenue Estimating Conference estimates the exemption would reduce general revenue receipts by $3.8 million in fiscal 2017-18 and by $8.9 million on a recurring basis. It would reduce local revenue by $1 million in fiscal 2017-18, and then by $2.3 million each year after.

Passidomo’s bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee; Edwards’ bill has not yet been scheduled for its first committee hearing.

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