Woman's Bra and underwear drawer

The Taxing Problem of Why Women Pay More for Underwear Than Men

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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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