By Ava Motes
A “hygiene tax removal” bill that was proposed on Saturday has been defeated by seven votes to two, ultimately leaving the current 6.25% sales tax placed on hygiene products in effect.
“Sanitation and hygiene is a basic human necessity,” said Chloe McBride, author of Bill Proposal 28. “It is a shame that poorer people cannot afford the things critical to their health.”
McBride’s argument against inhibiting taxation has been around for decades, calling to mind American grievances dating back to the Revolutionary War. Debate over the taxation of hygiene products in particular came to a head on Thursday when Nevada joined 10 other states in repealing taxes placed on feminine sanitary products. This tax has been dubbed “the pink tax” and has been criticized for placing an unnecessary burden, and even barrier, on women managing their physical welfare. While many advocates for tax reform in Nevada have rejoiced in the recent repealment of this tax, this remains unaddressed on the national scale. The struggle against “unfair taxation without representation,” is far from over, according to McBride, who asserted that people of lower socioeconomic status face daily hardships that policy-makers can never truly understand.
While other voters could agree with the humanitarian concern driving McBride’s proposal, other committee members such as Lillian Sethre-Brink expressed concern that the presentation of the issue favored altruism over economic logistics. “The hygiene products falling under this bill can all be purchased for under 30 dollars, so a 6 percent tax reduction is arbitrary,” said Sethre-Brink, who felt that the bill looked nice on paper but would not make a substantial difference for consumers.
Sethre-Brink’s point drew attention to the vague nature of McBride’s proposal, sparking further debate. Committee-member Catherine Wismer joined the opposition, arguing that the proposition was “fundamentally flawed [and] the entire bill contradicts itself.” She was referring to section III of the bill, which imposed penalty fines on businesses that refused to remove the tax. It is ultimately the government that determines taxes and places them on individual products, not businesses themselves. As a result, businesses can independently alter the prices of products, but do not have the ability to defy government tax specifications. Wismer’s argument invalidated the entire section of the bill, and thus placed it on a trajectory to be defeated.
Wismer also pointed out that “the bill will target independent businesses and hurt our economy as opposed to helping the impoverished.” This argument convinced the remainder of the committee to oppose the bill, even in spite of proposed amendments to the phrasing of Section III. Although the bill did not pass in the end, McBride held little animosity. McBride maintained that affordable sanitation is a vital determinant of an individual’s quality of life, but said “I can see everybody’s point of view.” McBride recognized that her proposition had some fundamental flaws, but intends to continue her work to “make sure that necessities are not considered a commodity.”