Should You Have to Pay Taxes on Diapers and Tampons?

tampon tax
Shutterstock/Alena Ozerova

Should you have to pay taxes on diapers and tampons?

This hot-button question’s been in the news, since Utah and California are proposing legislation to make these items exempt from sales tax. A similar Indiana bill failed to pass last week.  

A handful of states, like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, already exempt these products, but the majority don’t.

What’s The Deal With the Diaper Tax?

Like everything in our tax code, sales tax exemptions are complicated. In California, for example, hot sandwiches are taxed, but cold ones are not.

Other California tax-exempt items include candy, yoga classes, dry ice and poultry litter, the Sacramento Bee reports.  

“If poultry litter can be tax-free,” California Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez said, “I think we can extend ourselves to make diapers tax-free as well.”

Critics point out many other necessities — like toilet paper and soap — are taxable, so diapers should be, too. That, and if the income provided by the diaper and tampon tax disappears, it needs to come from somewhere.

“It can be a zero-sum game,” Tax Analysts’ deputy publisher David Brunori told CNN. “You either end up raising the sale tax or other taxes.”

It’ll be interesting to watch how these bills play out — and whether other states will follow suit.

Succeed or fail, here’s one foolproof way to save money on diapers: Don’t use ‘em.

Your Turn: Do you think we should pay taxes on diapers and tampons?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

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