WilmerHale lawyers are co-counsel in a class-action lawsuit that claims the state of Michigan violates the equal protection clauses of both the US and state constitutions by taxing, or failing to exempt from taxation, menstruation-related products.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in the Michigan Court of Claims on Aug. 11, 2020 are three Michigan residents and other similarly situated individuals, estimated to be 2.4 million women in the state. The state and its treasury agency were named as defendants.
The lawsuit claims the “tampon tax” – as sales and use taxes on menstrual products are popularly known – “discriminates on the basis of sex, serves no important government interest, and is irrational and arbitrary.” While menstrual products associated with women’s bodily functions are taxed, the lawsuit notes that many medically necessary products purchased by men are not similarly taxed, including prescription drugs, eyeglasses and dental prosthetics.
The lawsuit seeks refunds for the plaintiffs for a four-year span amounting $27.6 million, before interest. It also asks the court to find that the state’s taxing agency has the administrative authority to stop collecting the tax.
The lawsuit is part of a national effort, led by advocacy group Period Equity, to end the tampon tax. Partner Brian Mahanna, who has worked closely with Period Equity, said: “An unconstitutional tax on women is wrong at any time. But it’s particularly burdensome now with so many women and families struggling financially from the coronavirus pandemic. We hope the court agrees.”