Bills would trim sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products
BY KONRAD STRZALKA
Missouri News Network
JEFFERSON CITY – Changes to the sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products were discussed at a Senate hearing Monday.
These products are currently taxed at 4.225%, the same as some luxury items.
Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, would authorize sales tax exemptions for these products; whereas Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, would lower the tax rate on these products to 1.225%, the same rate as the sales tax on food.
Eight witnesses spoke in favor of these bills, including several representatives of diaper banks across the state.
Supporters of the bills pointed out that diapers and feminine hygiene products should be treated as necessities, and that low-income families across the state need relief in purchasing them.
Other supporters, such as Ashley Allison, representative of Kansas City-area diaper bank HappyBottoms, discussed the health effects that may occur when families have to ration diapers.
“Families who can’t afford diapers will often leave them on longer then intended in order to stretch their supply,” she said. “It is estimated that over a million pediatric visits in the U.S. every year are caused by ... this behavior, which leads to diaper rash.”
Allison also pointed out the bipartisan support for similar legislation across the country.
Other supporters of the legislation testified to the detrimental effects on people who lack access to feminine hygiene products.
“Without these supplies, people are not getting to class, not going to work,” said Muriel Smith, executive director of the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank.
The sole witness in opposition was Richard Sheets, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League.
Sheets argued that eliminating the sales tax on any products would negatively impact the revenue of municipalities in Missouri.
“Sales taxes are extremely important, primary funding sources for our local governments,” he said.
Sen. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, countered that the state is experiencing high revenues and questioned whether this legislation would have such a negative impact on local governments.
Similar bills have been introduced in previous legislative sessions. Last April, a similar bill passed a House committee, but was never brought up for a vote on the House floor.
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