Pay As You Flow
Like obstetricians and undertakers, tampon and pad manufacturers
can count on a steady flow. Of customers. But as Tambrands Inc.,
Playtex, Johnson & Johnson, and Kimberly-Clark Corporation build
their market knowing that they have a captive audience of women and
girls who need their products, the government completely dismisses
the notion of need, taxing these items as luxuries. Or so it would
But Karl Felsen, the amazing New York State Taxation department
detail man who has all the quirky aspects of tax law at his fingertips,
asserts that the tax on tampons is not a luxury versus nonluxury decision.
Felsen explains that only drugs or medicine used in the treatment or
prevention of disease are exempted. Since ``sanitary'' products aren't
actually sterile, they don't qualify. (These laws are arcane and peculiar;
interpreting them seems the stuff of rabbinical scholars: If chapstick,
which fends off the dangerous dry-lips condition is exempt, why is suntan
lotion, which fends off cancer, taxed?) Of course, Felsen is right in the
narrowest sense, tampons and pads are not medical products. But the
legislators' intent in exempting food, drugs, and services like dentists
and doctors was to make a distinction between things you need and things
you can do without.
So buck up, as you place that pad in your panties--you'll be sitting
in the lap of luxury.