As costs increase, advocates push to eliminate diaper sales tax

WASHINGTON D.C. — As prices rise, the push to eliminate the sales tax on diapers is gaining momentum across the country. Advocates say they are a basic necessity, but not every family can afford them. In fact, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families struggle with diaper need.


As part of his community outreach, Pastor Aaron Jones of New Hope Community Outreach Services has seen it all.

“There have been families coming in using, you know, clothing as diapers, newspaper as diapers,” he described.

His organization gives out diapers and other necessities to local families, who like many right now, can’t afford them.

“We’re not just talking about those who are homeless or those who have different situations, but those who have two family incomes and still have a hard time to provide, you know, getting money for diapers because everything is so expensive now,” Jones said.

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, an infant goes through up to twelve diapers every day. That costs a family $70 - $80 a month, which adds up to about $1,000 a year for one baby, just for diapers alone.

That’s why Shelly Tucker, founder of the Maryland Diaper Bank, worked to eliminate the sales tax on diapers there.

Families now are really keying in on budgeting right,” she said. “We have a situation that we’ve never really experienced before in America with the Coronavirus.”

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Right now, 29 states still charge sales tax on diapers. Now, more state legislatures are looking into tax relief efforts.

“If families are already struggling having to pay the increase in diaper costs, as well as the tax on top of that, we have a problem and I don’t know what we’re going to do about it,” Tucker said.

Not everyone wants to wipe away this tax.

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“What this is is just another way to provide specific carve outs or exemptions for certain goods over others,” Katherine Loughead, Senior Policy Analyst with the Tax Foundation, explained.

The nonprofit thinks there are better options that would help more people.

“Some people aren’t at a stage of their life where they’re buying things like diapers or whatever is being excluded at the time, and so they’re not getting that tax relief,” Loughead said. “So, a more neutral approach to get tax relief to all consumers would be to reduce the overall sales tax rate.”

The federal government is also working on this. The last budget included $10 million dedicated to diaper distribution programs.