May 11, 2016 (SACRAMENTO) A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to exempt diapers from California’s sales tax was approved by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on a bipartisan and unanimous 7-0 vote. The bill now proceeds to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The financial relief from the state’s current diaper tax found in AB 717 could save California families up to $100 per child annually, roughly equivalent to the cost of a month’s worth of diapers for infants and toddlers. Despite being a critical necessity for all young children, the state’s sales tax applies to diapers while exempting food and prescription health products. The exemption would sunset January 1, 2022.
“Affordable diapers have a direct impact on public health, the early success of our children, and the economic well-being of families across the state,” said Gonzalez. “Helping to ensure that a fundamental necessity for safe and healthy parenting like diapers remain affordable is a benefit to everyone.”
Diapers are a necessity for infants and toddlers, costing families $72 to $100 a month per child, creating a barrier to financial stability. Despite being critical to the health and hygiene of young children, diapers are excluded from state and federal assistance such as CalFresh, the federal Women Infant and Children program (WIC) and Medi-Cal. Lack of child care is a leading barrier to parents returning to the workforce, and a lack of affordable diapers is a major impediment to accessing available child care options.
Further, missing child care due to diaper need is a loss for the child themselves. In addition to risking a variety of health issues early in life, they miss the opportunity to participate in early childhood education, which more than doubles a child’s likelihood to go on to college.
Seven states already exempt diapers from their respective sales taxes: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Senator Joel Anderson (R-East San Diego County) acts as principle co-author on the bipartisan measure, and Assemblymembers Nora Campos (D-San Jose), Matthew Dababneh (D-Encino), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) are co-authors of the bill.