A Complete Guide to Understanding and Overcoming the Pink Tax

ByAnja Solum, CEPF
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: March 15, 2024

ByAnja Solum, CEPF
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: March 15, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

The "pink tax" refers to the higher prices often charged for products marketed towards women and gender-nonconforming individuals. Such additional costs can reduce lifetime savings, disproportionately impacting marginalized communities and intensifying existing societal inequalities.

Awareness of the pink tax can help you make more informed financial choices, keeping more money in your wallet.

What Is the Pink Tax?

The "pink tax" isn't an actual government tax but a gender-based price increase. When similar products are sold – a pink version for women and a blue version for men – the pink often has a higher price tag. This leads to women paying more for the same or similar products than men. According to a 2020 report by the California Senate Committee on Judiciary and Senate Select Committee on Women, Work and Families, women in California spent around $2,381 more per year than men did on the same products and services, which added up to almost $188,000 over the course of a lifetime.

The term "pink tax" gained traction in the mid-1990s with the passage of the Gender Tax Repeal Act in California, which outlawed price discrimination in services. The debate on this issue intensified following a study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. This study analyzed 794 products from 91 brands and found that women's products, were on average, 7% more expensive than similar products for men.

The pink tax significantly contributes to the financial burden women face, particularly in times of rising inflation. This form of discriminatory pricing undermines women's economic power and perpetuates financial inequality. The effects are even more pronounced for women of color, who face compounded challenges due to existing racial and gender pay gaps.

Pink Tax Examples

The pink tax affects a broad spectrum of products and services, especially those labeled as "feminine." Among various sectors analyzed, personal care stands out with the highest pink tax for women, showing an average cost increase of 13% compared to men's products. Tariff disparities further this issue. According to a 2018 U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) study, women's clothing was taxed at 15%, higher than the 12% for men's clothing.

Below is a comparative table of common products that underscores the price gap, though these figures (primarily from 2015) may vary with current market conditions.


“Tampon Tax”

Another issue closely linked to the pink tax is the "tampon tax," which refers to the sales tax specifically levied on menstrual products. Unlike the broader concept of the pink tax, the tampon tax is an actual sales tax imposed by many states on feminine hygiene products. This expense predominantly affects menstruating individuals, though it can also impact their families.

According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, as of January 8, 2024, 21 states continue to apply sales tax to period products, with rates ranging from 4% to 7%. Five states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — do not have a statewide sales tax. However, many states, cities and counties add local sales taxes, potentially increasing the financial burden on these necessary health items.

Legislative Efforts to Combat the Pink Tax

The issue of the pink tax has prompted legislative responses at various levels. In June 2021, Representative Speier reintroduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act, which aims to ban different pricing for similar products based on gender. Many states have also undertaken actions to eradicate gender-based pricing disparities. Stay informed regarding legislative action in your own state or local area to identify and challenge any instances of the pink tax.

Pink Tax Repeal Act

The Pink Tax Repeal Act represents a significant federal initiative to address gender-based pricing disparities. The Act explicitly targets manufacturers and service providers from setting different prices for substantially similar products based on the intended purchaser's gender. The passage of this bill could have a far-reaching impact, potentially saving billions of dollars for consumers annually. Since it was first proposed in 2016, this federal bill has been introduced multiple times but has never been approved. Despite not yet being enacted into law, its introduction signifies a continued commitment to tackling the pink tax at the national level.

State-Level Actions

Several states and municipalities are actively combating the pink tax through laws targeting gender-based pricing. Here are some notable state and local provisions to mitigate the pink tax.


How to Fight the Pink Tax

Fighting the pink tax requires a blend of awareness and proactive measures. As consumers, understanding the nuances of gender-based pricing can help you make informed purchasing decisions and avoid extraneous costs linked to your gender. Actively reporting instances of price discrimination, utilizing resources, planning your finances and engaging with advocacy that focuses on gender pricing issues can amplify the impact of your efforts.

How to Identify and Avoid Losing Money to the Pink Tax

Here are key strategies to detect and circumvent the unwarranted pink tax.


Reporting Price Discrimination

If you suspect you've been a victim of gender-based pricing, here are some actions you can take


Gather Evidence

Compile detailed information about the product or service, including the price difference, where you purchased it and comparable products or services for other genders. Photos or screenshots often serve as compelling proof.


Record Company Details

Record details of the company selling the product. These details could include the name, location and corporate contact information.


Report to the Company

Contact the company's customer service or complaints department, explaining your concern about the potential gender pricing issue/substantial price difference.


Report to the Local Consumer Protection Agency

If your issue with gender-based pricing remains unresolved, escalate it to your local consumer protection agency. Provide them with all the evidence you've gathered. Depending on your location, the process varies.

  • In New York State: Report pricing discrimination with the Division of Consumer Protection or contact the state attorney general.
  • In Miami-Dade County, Florida: Submit your consumer complaint via email (consumer@miamidade.gov), mail, fax or call the Mediation Center at 786-469-2333 for assistance.
  • In California: Lodge your complaint with the attorney general, ensuring it aligns with the specific industry involved.

You can still voice your concerns if you don’t live in these areas. Raise the issue with retailers directly and consider writing an email or letter to the manufacturers of products that carry the Pink Tax markup. You can typically find contact information on the packaging of most products.


Report to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which maintains records of all customer complaints and company responses.


Engage With Consumer Advocacy Groups

Connect with consumer advocacy groups that campaign against the pink tax. Please share your experience to help amplify their efforts and bring about change.


Social Media Advocacy

Share your experiences on social media. Public pushback can often prompt immediate company attention and resolution.

By conscientiously reporting, you protect your rights and contribute to a wider movement resisting the pink tax.

Additional Resources

Here’s a list of resources that provide additional knowledge, tools and insights for understanding and navigating gender-based price discrepancies.

  • Project Pink Tax: This nonprofit organization addresses the issue of period poverty and the pink tax. Their mission is to provide accessible, high-quality menstrual products to those in need and to raise awareness about period poverty and period equity.
  • Consumer Federation of America: This nonprofit organization is dedicated to consumer advocacy, offering insights into various consumer issues, including the pink tax.
  • Consumer Reports: Provides in-depth analyses of gender-based pricing in the retail sector. It is an excellent resource for identifying products and services with significant price differences based on gender.
  • Health Education Resources (HER): A nonprofit organization concentrating on education and advocacy around women's health issues, including the pink tax. HER provides insights into how the pink tax influences the pricing of gender-specific products and offers strategies to avoid it.

About Anja Solum, CEPF

Anja Solum, CEPF headshot

Anja Solum is a certified educator in personal finance and the Data Journalism Manager at MoneyGeek. For over six years, she has produced data analyses and studies for agency and in-house teams across multiple verticals.

Solum holds a bachelor's degree in communication arts from Florida International University. She's passionate about using data to tell compelling, informed stories that empower readers.