N.O. City Council President Moreno Proposes Eliminating ‘Pink Tax’

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NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans City Council’s Ad Valorem and Dedicated Revenue Special Committee will take up the issue of the so-called “pink tax” at its 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18 meeting. Advocates say that diapers and feminine hygiene items are essential products and should be exempt from taxes.

“Lift Louisiana has been fighting this sales tax battle with the male-dominated legislature for years,” says Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, an advocacy group that lobbies for Louisiana women, their families and their communities. “Former state Sen. J.P. Morrell valiantly fought in 2019 to eliminate this gender injustice, but his colleagues allowed the bill to die. Thankfully, we were able to work with Rep. Aimee Freeman on a bill that would allow local municipalities to exempt the pink tax. And we are thrilled New Orleans City Council President Moreno is now moving this forward.”

Erenberg said the tax impacts women who are already suffering on the wrong end of the gender wage gap and families struggling to make ends meet. It’s especially true, she said, for Black women, who represent the largest subgroup living in poverty. New Orleans has the nation’s ninth highest child poverty rate (39%) and abolishing local taxes on diapers would mean families annually saving $73 per child, which is approximately half the cost of a week’s worth of groceries. Likewise, a local tax exemption on feminine hygiene items would save $7.95 per year and, over a lifetime, it could add up to more than $300.

Moreno said the taxes, which place a premium on products mostly purchased by women, have been a burden that’s been worsened by the COVID pandemic.

“A report from United Way of Southeast Louisiana shows that in New Orleans close to 60% of single-family households led by women are living in poverty,” she said. “Now during this pandemic, the struggles for some families are insurmountable. We must find all different types of approaches to provide aid, and this is one of them. Ultimately, this exemption is common sense. It’s also the fair thing to do because let’s face it; this tax is discriminatory. Women should not pay a premium on essential products simply due to their gender – it’s just wrong.”

After the Council committee takes up the proposed ordinance, the full Council will vote on it at an Aug. 20 meeting. If passed, New Orleans will become the first city in Louisiana to grant a sales tax exemption on feminine hygiene products and diapers.

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