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New York ban on the pink tax goes into effect

State legislators make a landmark move toward gender equality

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The start of October brings with it systemic change in the fight against gender-based price discrimination in New York State.

Most commonly referred to as the “pink tax,” this form of discrimination costs women an average of $1,351 a year for services that are the same or “substantially similar” to comparable services for men.

Now, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, this practice is prohibited by state law.

What is the pink tax?

The pink tax has a long history of charging women more for goods and services solely based on gender. In 2016, CBS News launched an investigation centered on price discrimination in New York City and found that some retailers, such as dry cleaners, charged women up to 42% more than men for the same service.

The ban on the pink tax was added to the New York 2021 fiscal budget as part of Cuomo’s “Women’s Agenda,” which aims to “lead the nation in not only protecting, but also advancing women’s rights until we achieve true gender equality.”

“By abolishing the pink tax, women and girls will no longer be subject to harmful and unfair price discrimination, and any businesses who fail to put an end to this despicable practice will be held accountable,” said Gov. Cuomo when explaining the reason for the new law.

Enforcement of the new law

The new ban will be enforced by requiring, “certain service providers to provide price lists for standard services upon request,” according to a release published by the Governor’s office. There is no word yet on who these service providers will be.

Despite the vague classification of businesses that will be reviewed under the new ban, any retailer or individual found to be selling products or services in a discriminatory manner will be subject to civil penalties, which entails a $250 fine for first-time offenders and a $500 fine for repeat violators.

According to the ban, individuals and retailers are in violation of the mandate if they sell “substantially similar goods or services” at different prices based on gender.

The phrase “substantially similar” will be key in enforcing the new law and is defined by the state of New York as “two goods that exhibit little difference in the materials used in production, intended use, functional design and features, and brand.”

New York’s ban on the pink tax is being lauded as “tremendous progress in advancing gender equity” by the chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, Melissa DeRosa, and a “landmark law” for gender equality by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado.

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