Woman's Bra and underwear drawer


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Unlike men's tighty whities, women's underwear has long been considered fashion, but does that mean women should pay more for their undergarments? Nevertheless, they do. 

Women pay a higher tariff rate on their undergarments than men do, which translates into higher prices at the checkout — and the price difference is greater if you prefer cotton to silk. In short, women are charged a tax that's a whopping 35% higher than what guys pay.

The finding comes from a report by the Pragmatic Policy Institute, which finds that the U.S. tariff rate on women's underwear is 15.5% while it's just 11.5% for men. Worse, those comfy cotton underpants come at a price. U.S. tariffs on underwear are regressive, meaning that cheap materials have a higher tax than fancier fabrics. 

Thus, silk underwear for women is subject to a 2.1% tariff rate, while a 0.9% tax is applied to men's silk underthings. But when it comes to cotton, women get hit with a 7.6% rate while men are taxed at 7.4%. And for those who wear polyester, the rate goes up yet again, to 16% for women and 14.9% for men.

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And should you be wondering, government tariffs on undergarments aren't universally unfair. Most countries apply a flat tax to underwear, and in Japan and the European Union, women's items are taxed at a lower, not higher, rate. Japan levies no additional tax, while the EU has a tariff rate of 6.5% on bras and corsets and a flat rate of 9% and 12% on other items for both men and women.

And if the "pink tax" bothers you, it's unlikely the government wants to be stripped of the income higher tariffs on women's undergarments bring in. The U.S. International Trade Commission has found that two-thirds of the total tariff burden comes from women's apparel, a fact that just may put your knickers in a twist. 

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