Aurora took an important step on Monday to remove the city’s sales tax on menstrual products, making it the second Colorado city to do so.
Aurora City Council unanimously voted to postpone the measure to a second and final vote later this month. Denver passed a similar measure in 2019. More than half a million women live in the neighboring cities.
“This comes before the Council on International Women’s Day and sends a message that if you are someone who lives in Aurora this is something we consider a justice issue and you shouldn’t be taxed on what your body does naturally” said Aurora Councilor Allison Hiltz said in an interview prior to the vote.
Aurora’s ordinance provides that tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, and sanitary napkins are exempt from city sales tax of 3.75%, although state sales tax and other taxes levied in Aurora at the time of purchase still apply .
The city expects the exemption will cause it to lose $ 230,000 in sales tax revenue annually.
“This is worth the loss of tax revenue as we give people security in accessing the products they need,” said Hiltz.
Colorado is one of 30 states that have not granted tax exemptions on feminine hygiene products, according to Period Equity, a “menstrual justice” advocacy group. Democrats tried in 2017, but failed at the statehouse.
Laura Strausfeld, co-founder of Period Equity, hopes Colorado lawmakers will soon take the issue statewide – or face potential litigation.
“It’s great that Aurora is doing this, especially given the appalling inaction by lawmakers in Colorado,” she said Monday. “We recently filed a lawsuit against Michigan arguing that the tampon tax is unconstitutional. Colorado risks similar legal action by continuing to impose an unconstitutional tax. “
Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, co-sponsored the 2017 push, and said Monday she hoped that another bill could be drafted during this term to address the issue.
“Menstrual products are not a luxury item,” she said. “The state should do everything in its power to fight poverty in time.”
Herod pointed to a January decision by the Denver Public Schools to fill the bathrooms of girls and women in the district with free menstrual products as a “step in the right direction.”
Given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women in the workforce, Hiltz said, now is the time to take action like Aurora is considering.