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This November, voters will decide whether to change the state's tax code and exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes by voting either 'yes' or 'no' on Question 2.
Supporters of the ballot measure argue that the products are not a luxury but a life necessity that every woman needs from when they first hit puberty through menopause.
“What that really means to us is that it recognizes that there are systemic inequities that women face,” Caroline Mello Roberson with NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada told KNPR's State of Nevada.
She says there are nine other states that have taken similar measures to exempt tampons and sanitary napkins from being taxed. Mello Roberson says the effort is part of a larger uprising of women who are fed up with inequalities.
“We see it all as a part of large economic inequality that women are facing, that weshould be rectified, and we hope that voters vote in favor of this measure,” she said.
Those against the ballot measure are concerned about how much the state would lose in tax revenue for schools and other state-run programs.
The ballot measure would have a financial impact on the state of between $72 million and $104 million a year, according to the fiscal note on the ballot measure.
Bryan Wachter is the director of public and government affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada. His group is neither for nor against this specific ballot question; however, it is concerned about the idea of exempting items from the sales and use taxes because that narrows the tax base.
“When we apply exemptions, abatements, credits into the tax code for whatever reason, we end up limiting the number of people that are paying that tax," he said.
Wachter said taxes need to be applied to the largest number of people and the largest number of products, which allows everyone to pay contribute a similar share instead just a few people bearing more of the burden.
He points out that taxes are not a punishment but part of what we pay as citizens for the programs and services we have asked the government to provide.
Besides the potential chipping away at the tax code, Wachter said the way Nevada's tax code is set up and the process for changing it is problematic.
The law the ballot measure will change was established in 1955. In the 70s, voters decided to codify that law so lawmakers can't change it without going to the people.
He believes that needs to be done away with so that tax policy can be decided by lawmakers. He says by changing it the way Question 2 proposes could cause a rise in tax rates to achieve the same amount of state revenue.
“I think, putting it in context, is this what we want the tax code to do? Is this the purpose of the tax code? Is really something we should thinking when we’re in the voting booth contemplating Question 2,” Wachter said.
Caroline Mello Roberson, state director, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada; Bryan Wachter, director of public and government affairs, Retail Association of Nevada
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