New York Pharmacy Advertised Tongue-in-Cheek "Man Tax"

An independent pharmacy owner gave women a 7% discount to raise awareness of the pink tax" and general price discrimination with women's products.

Owners of a New York City independent pharmacy recently imposed a one-day, 7% “man tax” in their efforts to raise awareness of the ongoing nationwide debate over taxes on feminine hygiene products and the gender inequality women experience when purchasing personal health products. Though described as a tax, the surcharge was in fact a 7% discount to female customers.

The Thompson Chemist, in New York’s Soho neighborhood, began putting signs on their storefront windows on an otherwise regular Monday morning. The customers who came into the store responded favorably; however, offended men began voicing their collective outrage on Yelp, Reddit, and other social media. “We just wanted to show people that there’s ‘pink tax,’ and that women just pay more for things,” Jolie Alony, owner of Thompson Chemist, told the Huffington Post. In addition to the thousands of angry online responses, Alony told the Huffington Post that she received threatening phone calls.1

Right now, feminine products are subject to sales tax in most states where these products fall under the “luxury tax” or “sin tax” categories because they’re considered “luxury” goods—not “necessities” like food and medicine.

Proponents of ending the “tampon tax” allege that the law creates a double standard, with some states applying a sales tax to tampons and pads, but not products used solely by men like Viagra.

And it doesn't stop at feminine hygiene products. Side-by-side comparisons have shown some essentially identical products across several industries are marketed towards men and women differently, with women often paying a higher price. The extra amount women are charged is known as the “pink tax.” Examples of some of these gendered products found in drug stores include razors, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and face cleansers.

A New York City Department of Consumer Affairs report published in December 2015 found that, on average, women’s products cost 7% more than similar products for men. The report states that across 5 industries, women’s products cost more 42% of the time, whereas men’s products cost more 18% of the time.2

Legislation known as the Pink Tax Repeal Act has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, “to prohibit the pricing of consumer products and services that are substantially similar if such products or services are priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whose use the products are intended or marketed or for whom the services are performed or offered.”3

References

1. Hatch J. A pharmacy advertised a “man tax” and men’s rights activists lost it. The Huffington Post website. huffingtonpost.com/entry/nyc-pharmacy-advertised-a-man-tax-and-mras-lost-it_us_57ffd4b6e4b0162c043ac792.

2. New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Report. From cradle to cane: the cost of being a female consumer a study of gender pricing in New York City. 2015. NYC Consumer Affairs website. www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/partners/gender-pricing-study.page.

3. Speier J. H.R.5686 — Pink Tax Repeal Act. 114th Congress (2015-2016). Congress.gov website. congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5686/text.