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Proposed Arizona bill would end tax on diapers, formula and feminine hygiene products

Posted at 9:45 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 00:23:40-05

A new bill introduced in Arizona is proposing to waive a sales tax on diapers, baby formula and feminine hygiene products.

“I’ve reached out to diaper banks, for example, that provide for those in need, and they’re ecstatic over this,” said Rep. T.J. Shope, who is sponsoring House Bill 2153 .

For the past two years, Democratic Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr., who represents parts of southern Arizona, has tried to get families help.

This session, Hernandez teamed up with Republican Rep. Shope, who represents parts of Pinal and Gila counties, to take a bipartisan approach. If it passes, it would mean no sales tax for diapers, baby formula and feminine hygiene products through 2027.

“Other states have done this,” Shope said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here or anything like that, but it has failed to get a little traction the last couple years.”

"Diapers and menstrual products are basic necessities that many families in our community struggle to afford, and we're very grateful to Arizona's house representatives, TJ Shope and Daniel Hernandez for introducing this legislation," said Daniel Moxley, with the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank.

The Diaper Bank of Central Arizona helped 11,000 children last year. Executive director Ginger Clayton said an additional 3,000 children or more could get help if this bill passes.

About 30 percent of families have to reuse diapers just to make ends meet, according to Clayton.

“It’s a decision,” she said. “Buy diapers, or do I pay the electric bill or do I buy food or shoes? It’s just a matter of priority.”

Clayton said that can create a ripple effect since daycare facilities require you drop off diapers with your child.

“No diapers, no daycare, no job, no money,” she said. “And that just really perpetuates that poverty cycle.”

On average, babies five months and up would need about 240 diapers per month.

A box of 222 diapers in a Huggies Snug and Dry Economy Plus Pack costs around $46. If you get rid of the sales tax, that’s a savings of $3.70.

It’s a matter of dollars and cents, but it can add up quickly, especially if families have more than one child in diapers.

"To many that amount of tax my seem small, but its enough to buy an extra two day's worth of diapers every month. To those who are living below the poverty line, its huge," said Moxley.

Federal programs like food stamps and the Arizona Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) help parents, but they don’t cover diapers. Baby formula is currently taxed and milk is not.

“I do have a feeling, especially now that it’s truly a bipartisan effort, that we’ll be able to go ahead and get this across the finish line,” Shope said.