January 16th, 2020
California Sales Tax Elimination on Basic Necessities
California recently eliminated taxes on diapers and menstrual products for two years, helping women and families with children to afford these necessities and other states should consider doing the same
The state of California passed a law which went into effect January 1, 2020 which eliminates sales tax on diapers and menstrual products, such as sanitary pads and tampons, for the next two years. Senate Bill 92 was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom in June 2019. The bill arose out of Governor Newsom’s work on the 2019-2020 state budget. Taking measures to eliminate or reduce taxes on these products has been in debate in California for several years, but had previously been struck down each time lawmakers attempted to get it enacted. The measure is somewhat controversial from a political standpoint because it represents a significant decrease in California state tax revenue, but is one that serves other important objectives.
It has been estimated that this law will help save up to $100 per child for families who have to purchase diapers for their children. The savings for women purchasing necessary menstrual products is also estimated to be significant. Lower income families and women who may be struggling to afford basic necessities, such as housing, food, and medical care, will now have one less expense for items that are needed on a regular basis. This law sends positive messages of political support for the needs of women and children because it changes the classification of diapers and menstrual products from voluntary purchases or luxuries to one that recognizes that these items are basic necessities and eliminates the sales tax on them, similar to medicine and most food. It aims to help alleviate financial strain by recognizing the unique needs of two populations – women and children – that have often gone overlooked when it comes to specific needs of those groups as opposed to the population as a whole.
California will have to reconsider this sales tax elimination as the 2022 fiscal year approaches, and there is the possibility that it will not be reenacted, but there are strong hopes that the change will remain permanent. Hopefully this can also set an example to other states to consider making similar changes when structuring their budgets and encouraging them to consider a measure that can help lessen the financial burden on those who must purchase these items to remain healthy and hygienic.