HB202: Utah aims to eliminate sales tax on diapers, tampons and other hygiene products

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Utah legislature is in the national minority with the introduction of a bill that seeks to eliminate sales tax on hygiene products such as diapers, liners, pads, tampons and sanitary napkins.

Kelsey Bitton and her son at home in Springville, UT
Kelsey Bitton and her son at home in Springville, Utah. A bill may be passed in Utah to eliminate sales tax on hygiene products.

According to a report from Fusionfound in June 2015, Utah would be one of only 10 states to stop taxation on hygiene products. While there are 45 states that recognize groceries as a tax exempt necessity, current laws suggest that hygiene products are inessential luxuries and are consequently subject to state taxes.

Utah law currently prohibits taxation on medical prescriptions, and Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, introduced HB202 in hopes of abolishing tax on items she says are also medical necessities and forces of nature. The bill has been assigned to be heard by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Duckworth pointed out that most states offering similar benefits to their citizens are focusing on feminine hygiene products. However, Duckworth doesn’t want the bill to be focused solely on feminine products. “I do not want this bill to be the ‘tampon tax’ or the ‘pink tax,'” Duckworth said. “This is the hygiene act.”

Duckworth has had past experience that may have contributed to her viewpoints on the bill.

“My dad came to live with us for four years, and he was incontinent at the time. The cost of the hygiene products we had to buy for someone on a fixed income were astonishing,” Duckworth said. “Abolishing these taxes will benefit our children, women, men and senior citizens alike.”

The bill has a fiscal note of 1.2 million the first year and 1.3 million by 2018. This amount of money is making fellow lawmakers less supportive of the bill, but Duckworth said, “You have to remember how many children we have in our state and how many families are going to benefit from this tax elimination if we pass it.”

Kelsey Bitton of Springville, Utah, said her young and growing family might not initially notice a difference if the bill passed. “No matter what, I am going to buy those products, because to me tampons and diapers aren’t luxury items,” Bitton said.

Though she doesn’t believe they’re luxury items, Bitton is optimistic about the change no tax would make.

“But if I was one to really be consistent at crunching those numbers, I’m sure I would notice. If young moms could save a little bit in the long run, especially at the beginning, that would be great.”

If passed, the bill will take effect on July 1, 2016.

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