Washington no pink tax

From the 2015 report “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer: A Study of Gender Pricing in New York City” by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

It’s time to end ‘pink taxation’, the practice of charging women and girls more than men and boys for shampoo, conditioner, other personal care products and pink products. So say six Lake Washington High School students and some lawmakers in Olympia.

According to a 2015 study, women are charged up to 13% more for such products than for the same products marketed to men New York Consumer Affairs. Since the publication of this study, New York and California have outlawed such gender-based awards.

The students create an invoice

This month, the students spearheaded a bill now in the Washington state legislature that would ban gender-based pricing in Washington as well. After launch on January 9th Senate Act 5171 (SB 5171) is sailing through the Senate and is currently awaiting hearing in the Senate. SB 5171 “prohibits businesses from charging different prices for any two goods that are substantially similar based on the gender of the target market.”

If the bill goes into effect, it will join other legislation targeting women’s equality: lawmakers in 2020 Eliminated retail and use taxes on feminine hygiene products. The bill must go to the Senate for a vote by March 8 in order to move forward for consideration in the House of Representatives and possibly for the governor to sign the bill into law.

Pink Bottle vs Blue

“I think a lot of us have heard the phrase ‘pink tax’, even though we all know it’s not actually a tax. It happens very often, especially women, when we go shopping, and the bottle that is pink costs more than the bottle that is blue,” the bill’s sponsor said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) said that Senate Law and Justice Committee during a Jan. 16 hearing.

“We already know that women don’t make as much money as men these days, and it’s even worse when we look at women of color.” Added dhingra. “Today there is absolutely no reason why one product should be more expensive than the other unless it has different ingredients (or) different manufacturing processes.”

A gap that adds up

The bill was introduced in a government class at Lake Washington High School. The students studying the problem approached Dhingra to sponsor the bill.

Stereotypical examples of gender-specific pricing can be found in razors, toiletries, children’s toys and senior care products, where the girls’ version is often more expensive for no apparent reason, even when it’s the same brand of product,” the student said Gabrielle Heuer told the Senate committee. “The only significant difference can be the packaging or the color scheme. (It) may only be a few dollars or cents, but over the course of life that gap adds up to something significant. It can happen to men too, which is all the more reason to address it. The intention of this law is not to unnecessarily regulate the economy, but to prevent discrimination.”

Washington no pink tax

From the 2015 report “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer: A Study of Gender Pricing in New York City” by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

justice on several fronts

In his testimony, student Benjamin Howard pointed out that the bill is not just about gender equality.

“It’s important to distinguish the two demographics most affected by gender pricing, white women and women of color,” he said. “According to 2021 studies by the National Women’s Law Center, Caucasian women get paid 83 cents for every dollar a Caucasian man makes. This is a key difference. But an even greater disparity can be seen between Black, Indigenous and Hispanic women compared to Caucasian men. When women, particularly ethnic minority women, are already disadvantaged by the gender and racial pay gap, the increased cost of a product is all the more significant. We must recognize and support the hundreds of thousands of Washington residents who suffer from consumer discrimination.”

More power for the Attorney General

Although pink taxing is already a violation of state law Consumer Protection Improvement Act, passed in 2022, Dhingra says the law does not stop the practice of gender-based pricing. The measure, she says, would give the attorney general specific power to address the injustice.


Several people testified against SB 5171, mainly fearing that local businesses would be penalized at the prices set by manufacturers. However, Dhingra said the bill would see manufacturers face penalties if demand companies enforce the gender-specific prices they set.

To track SB 5171 go to the Crosscut WA Bill Tracker.

More at Seattle’s Child:

“Senate bill would lower compulsory school age”


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