OLYMPIA — Companies doing business in Washington would no longer be allowed to charge different prices for substantially similar products marketed to men and women, under legislation passed today by the Senate. 

SB 5171, sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), would ban the practice of gender-based price discrimination, often called the “pink tax,” that sees women’s products marked up compared to men’s. The bill passed 27-21 and now moves to the House for consideration. 

“There’s no reason a product in a pink package should be more expensive than one in a blue package,” said Dhingra. “If there is a legitimate reason that one product is more expensive than another, like more expensive ingredients or more difficult manufacturing processes, those products would not be affected by this law.  

“But pure gender-based price discrimination? That shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Let’s eliminate the pink tax — and let’s be more inclusive than simply pink or blue.” 

Even when price differences are small, over time they add up. A study in California found that gender-based pricing costs women about $1,300 per year. In 2020, women in Washington made 80 cents for every dollar made by men, a disparity exacerbated by paying more for many consumer goods.  

Based on existing law in New York and California, SB 5171 authorizes the Attorney General to enforce the ban on discriminatory pricing.  

Retailers who are merely passing along price differences charged to them by wholesalers wouldn’t be penalized under this legislation because legal liability falls on the business in the supply chain that originated the discriminatory pricing.  

Any gender-neutral reason, including manufacturing costs, would be a legally acceptable basis for charging different prices.