The idea is that menstrual hygiene products, like prescription drugs and food items, are necessities and therefore should not be taxed. Washington exempts prescription drugs and most food items from the sales tax.

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Seattle would study the possibility of exempting menstrual hygiene products from the city’s portion of the sales tax under a proposal that attracted strong support from City Council members Tuesday.

A number of states, such as Minnesota, Maryland and New York, and some countries, including Canada, have adopted various tax breaks for tampons and pads.

The idea is that menstrual hygiene products, like prescription drugs and food items, are necessities and therefore should not be taxed. Washington exempts prescription drugs and most food items from the sales tax.

The statement of legislative intent proposed Tuesday by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda¬†as part of the city’s 2019 budget would request that Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration “evaluate the feasibility of exempting menstrual hygiene products” through either city or state action. A report would be due back to the council by May 15, 2019.

The sales tax on tampons amounts to a special tax on women, who are paid “76 cents on the dollar compared to men in King County,” Mosqueda said.

“This is really about making sure that we are creating opportunities to have a more equitable tax system,” the council member said, adding, “We currently do not tax food. We know food is necessary … We also know that this is a necessary product.”

Lisa Herbold and Rob Johnson are co-sponsoring the proposal, and several other council members expressed support for it. The council could pass the statement of legislative intent next month along with other changes and additions to Durkan’s budget.

The evaluation would include an analysis of whether Seattle has the authority to make the change on its own or would need to lobby in Olympia. Washington state collects the sales tax and then distributes portions to cities. Councilmember Kshama Sawant said her impression has been that cities have limited authority to exempt items.

The work also would include an estimate of how much money the city would go without were it to pass the exemption.

The statewide sales-tax rate is 6.5 percent and the local rate in Seattle is 3.6 percent, adding up to a combined rate of 10.1 percent. The city’s rate is only .85 percent, with the rest of the local rate divided among King County and transportation authorities.

Some Washington lawmakers in recent years have unsuccessfully proposed eliminating the sales tax on menstrual hygiene products. They have said the move would collectively save consumers millions of dollars.

“There is interest there but Seattle has led in the past and I think we can lead again in making this fix,” Mosqueda said.

Councilmember Debora Juarez suggested diapers also be considered as an item for the city to exempt from its portion of the sales tax.

Clarification: This story has been updated with additional information on how the local sales-tax rate in Seattle is divided among the city and other authorities.