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Group protests pink tax, says women should ask state for money back

The state sales tax is 4 percent, but when you add the local sales tax to that, it brings sales taxes up to almost 10 cents on every dollar.

NEW ORLEANS — Some women's groups are claiming it's unconstitutional that 33 states still have taxes on feminine protection. And Louisiana is one of those states.

Now they are taking their protest to several states, as well as a petition online, to declare feminine products a necessity, not a luxury.

Friday, they stopped in New Orleans.

The Tax Free. Period. campaign out of New York is taking it's message of menstrual equality to states that charge sales tax on feminine protection.

"People don't realize their states don't consider tampons and pads and liners necessities, and therefore they're charging sales tax on it, whereas things like donuts and Mardi Gras beads and Viagra are considered necessities in those states and therefore are tax exempt," said Lindsey Swedick of Tax Free. Period.

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People were asked to send a receipt from menstrual products to the Louisiana Department of Revenue asking for the tax back. They are hoping states will be inundated with requests.

"I mean, that's absurd that we have to pay tax on something that we need," said Social Media Influencer Alisha Reed, who is a pharmacist and speaks out about women's health issues.

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"This campaign is actually potentially a prerequisite to our team of lawyers actually initiating lawsuits against the states," said Swedick, who says it is unlikely any of the women will get a refund on the tax receipts they are mailing in.

The state sales tax is 4 percent, but when you add the local sales tax to that, it brings sales taxes up to almost 10 cents on every dollar. A box of 40 tampons will cost an extra 61 cents every time you buy it.

Last legislative session, State Senator J.P. Morrell got a bill through both chambers to exempt feminine protection as well as baby and adult diapers, but last-minute changes killed it when he says some people were worried about the revenue loss.

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"The state would lose, for diapers and tampons combined, it would cost the state between $7 million and $10 million a year," said Senator Morrell, a Democrat from New Orleans.

But Morrell says they are planning to try again this spring in Baton Rouge.

Councilwoman Helena Moreno plans to write a city resolution in support of repealing the state tax.  

And Senator Morrell says a state bill is in the works to allow each city to vote to repeal its local sales tax on feminine products.

Senator Morrell said Mardi Gras beads used to be exempt from state tax but that was repealed. They are still tax-exempt when the non-profit Mardi Gras Krewes purchase them.

For more on the campaign, click here.

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