Legal Edge: Michigan lawsuit alleges taxes on menstrual products illegal, calls for refunds

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In August of 2020, three Michigan women filed a lawsuit that alleges the Michigan Treasury Department illegally taxed menstrual products. The lawsuit suggests that everyone that purchased menstrual products within the last four years should receive a refund on those taxes.

Local attorney Bryan Waldman explains.

“The women who have filed this lawsuit (and their lawyers) allege that charging a sales tax on menstrual products violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution,” said Waldman. “It discriminates them solely on the basis of their sex.”

There have been bills to outlaw “tampon taxes” in the state legislature for each of the past five years, but the bills have never been adopted

This most recent effort is an attempt to overturn the tax via the courts.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers say that they don’t believe the taxes are intentionally sexist, but rather an outdated oversight from when only cisgender men were in the legislature.

About 10 states have removed menstrual taxes, with Canada and Australia removing them nationwide.

Menstrual products have been previously classed as “luxury items,” a term usually used to describe sports cars or jewelry.

“The argument here is that [tampons] are more of a luxury than a necessity,” said Waldman.

If the lawsuit is successful and refunds are issued, the total refund for all Michigan menstrual product taxes would be around $27 million.

“The women, in this case, are relying on a statute that says you can go back and recover the sales tax that have been paid over the last 4 years. They are together claiming that together they are only owned approximately $135,” said Waldman.

Adding up all the sales taxes of all the menstrual products purchased over the last year results in a much higher figure, said Waldman.

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