Sales tax exemption for diapers proposed

Diapers would be exempt from state sales and use tax under a bill heard Jan. 26 by the Revenue Committee.

Sen. John Cavanaugh
Sen. John Cavanaugh

Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, sponsor of LB58, said Nebraska has for many years exempted certain necessities, such as groceries, from state sales and use tax. Diapers are an essential item for young families and for adults who need diapers for medical purposes, he said, and also should be exempt.

LB58 would save the average Nebraska household approximately $70 per year, Cavanaugh said, which is significant at a time when costs are rising due to inflation.

The state Department of Revenue estimates that the bill would reduce state general fund revenue by approximately $1.6 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and $2.5 million in FY2024-25.

Tegan Reed of the Nebraska Diaper Bank testified in support of LB58, saying 16 other states currently exempt diapers from sales tax. She said one in three Nebraska families struggles to afford enough diapers to keep their children clean, dry and healthy.

Most childcare facilities require parents to provide diapers for their children, Reed said, which means that families in “diaper need” miss an average of four days of school or work per month.

Scout Richters testified in support of the bill on behalf of the ACLU of Nebraska. She said the proposed exemption would benefit families financially and signal that caregivers, who disproportionately are women, are valued.

Alicia Christensen testified in support of LB58 on behalf of Together, a nonprofit that provides services to end hunger and homelessness in Omaha. She said making diapers more affordable would allow more elderly Nebraskans — or those who use incontinence products due to disabilities, injuries or illness — to live with dignity and maintain their well-being.

Christensen said children’s diapers are not covered by federal or state safety net programs. Even a small decrease in the cost of diapers could help reduce the number of low-income families who face housing insecurity or hunger, she said.

No one testified in opposition to LB58 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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