By Editor: June 29th, 2023.
Last month, Florida joined a growing number of states that are banning sales taxes on diapers to make them more affordable for older adults and families with young children.
Florida is one of the United States’ top three destination states for retirees, with about 21% of its residents age 65 or older.
“So it affects more people in Florida than it does in other places,” said state Sen. Jay Trumbull, a Republican.
Fifteen other states, including California, Louisiana, and Minnesota, as well as the District of Columbia, have permanently eliminated the diaper tax, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. (Five others do not have sales taxes in general.)
Exemptions can vary widely. Some states ban taxes on diapers but no other incontinence products; others exempt taxes only on diapers purchased with a doctor’s prescription.
Florida’s effort is particularly comprehensive — eliminating sales taxes on both baby diapers and adult incontinence supplies.
The measure will reduce the state’s general revenue by about $54.4 million annually after its first year, according to a Florida Senate analysis. That money could make a huge difference in the lives of everyday Floridians, said Rima Nathan, a professor and the director of the Claude Pepper Elder Law Clinic at Florida State University.
Eliminating taxes on the products could save an adult who uses four or five diapers a day about $18 a month, according to a clinic analysis.
But what about for babies? The average diaper costs anywhere from $0.20 to $0.30. Assuming your baby uses 2,500–3,000 diapers in their first year of life, you can expect to spend about $500-$900 on an annual supply. (This doesn’t count the cost of other diapering supplies, such as wipes and a changing table.)
Given the 7% sales tax in Florida, this suggests a saving of up to $70 per year, but this will depend a great deal on whether parents stick to the most expensive brands like Pampers or Huggies, or go for discount products that cost less.
Though diapers, including for babies, are essential for many, they are not covered by food stamps. Nor are incontinence products for older adults typically covered by Medicare.
The cost can easily add up on a fixed income like social security or a pension.
Eliminating sales taxes has long been considered a way to make essential items more affordable. Many states, including Florida, have removed taxes on period products, for example.
For the past year, the Sunshine State has had a temporary pause on taxing diapers for infants, through a relief package Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last May. But the one-year ban did not apply to products for older adults.
“I just didn’t think it was fair to ignore one over the other — especially knowing many seniors are on a fixed income,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, who has proposed bills in the past three legislative sessions that would ban taxes on all incontinence products. “Every penny does count.”
Souces: Kaiser Health News with Hannah Critchfield, Tampa Bay Times.