The tax on a $19 box of diapers in Wisconsin is about 95 cents. Some lawmakers say that’s simply too much for families in Wisconsin. 

A group of Republicans and Democrats at the statehouse in Madison want to add diapers and feminine hygiene products to Wisconsin’s tax-exempt list. 

The state already waives the sales tax on groceries and other necessities, but things like maxi pads and diapers are considered “luxury items.”

Sen. André Jacque, R-De Pere, said that’s not true.

“These products aren’t luxury goods, they are necessities for health and personal care,” Jacque said. 

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said expanding the sales tax exemption would make shopping more fair.

“Wisconsin exempts basic necessities, like groceries, from sales tax,” she said. “As a matter of fairness, we must recognize diapers and menstrual products that parents with infants, people with disabilities, older adults, and people who menstruate, use as needed products that should not be subject to sales tax.”

The sales tax on diapers in Wisconsin is currently 5 percent. The lawmakers said it is the cumulative cost that hurts families. 

“Currently in the United States, nearly 1 in 3 families struggle to afford enough diapers, with disposable diapers costing upwards of $80 per month per child,” the legislators said in their statement. “Meanwhile, studies have found that 2 out of 3 people living below the poverty line have experienced being without menstrual products due to costly expenses.”

Madison’s Democratic State Rep. Melissa Sargent, who last year pushed through a new law that requires the state of Wisconsin to provide free feminine hygiene products in some public buildings, said no one should have to go without the products that they need.

“It is unacceptable that many Wisconsinites currently go without these products, or struggle to access them due to financial burdens. Ending the tax on these items is an important step in ensuring equity in our tax code, and in advancing public health here in Wisconsin,” Sargent said. 

Sargent has tried, and failed, to add diapers and feminine hygiene products to Wisconsin’s tax-exempt list before. She said in 2018 that taking those items off the tax list would cost the state and local communities about $2.4 million a year. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.

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