Exempting baby diapers from Connecticut sales tax is a long overdue but necessary action, advocates told the Children’s Committee Tuesday.
The legislature’s Children’s Committee is attempting, as it has unsuccessfully before, to exempt baby diapers from Connecticut sales tax. Currently, only adult diapers are tax-free in the state of Connecticut.
There are thousands of families in the state struggling to make ends meet, and exempting diapers from sales tax could provide a bit of much-needed relief, Janet Stolfi Alfano, executive director of The Diaper Bank, said.
The North Haven-based nonprofit works to increase access to and provide diapers to those who cannot otherwise afford them.
“In low-income households, many children spend an entire day in one diaper,” Alfano said. “Diapers are a basic need for children, as are adult diapers.”
Alfano told the committee The Diaper Bank currently provides diapers to about 3,000 families. “But we estimate the need is closer to 40,000 families,” Alfano said.
Steven Hernandez, director of public policy for the Commission on Children, agreed with Alfano.
“There is a cost” to implementing a tax-free diaper program in the state, Hernandez said, “but it is a cost that we need to bear.”
Last year, when similar legislation was proposed, the state Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the state would lose $4.3 million annually.
In Connecticut, the Department of Revenue Services considers baby diapers, both disposable and cloth, as clothing, while adult diapers are exempted as a medical supply associated with incontinence.
But Alfano said there are serious health consequences for low-income families who ration diapers their babies wear.
A pack of 32 diapers typically costs around $9. Connecticut’s sales tax adds another 57 cents to the cost.
Connecticut is one of only three states that tax baby diapers but not adult diapers, according to a 2012 survey by the National Diaper Bank Network. The other two states are Maryland and North Dakota.
Seven states exempt baby diapers from tax, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the group. And there is no tax on diapers in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, as those states have no sales tax on any items.
Of the states that do tax diapers, more than a dozen include them in annual sales tax holidays, according to the survey.