Diapers, tampons and other menstrual products would be exempt from sales tax under bill advancing at state legislature

Megan Verlee/CPR News
A close up of four disposable diapers with cartoon characters printed on them and a box of wipes nearby.

A bill to remove Colorado’s sales tax on menstrual products, diapers and adult incontinence products overwhelmingly passed the state House Thursday and will advance to the Senate. 

“These are essential products. These are not something that we get to decide that we don’t [need],” said Democratic bill sponsor Rep. Susan Lontine at an earlier hearing on HB22-1055. “Just like we don’t have sales tax on unprepared food or medication, this is an essential item and should not be taxed.”

The state does not track how many of these products are sold each year, but legislative analysts estimate the tax exemption could cost Colorado around $11 million dollars a year in lost revenue. The bill does still allow local governments to tax these products if they decide to do so.

An earlier version of the bill failed in 2018 over concerns that the state couldn’t afford to lose the tax money. This year, the state budget is in a strong position, and a majority of Democrats appear to broadly favor the policy. The bill also has some Republican support.

Backers argue paying taxes on these products particularly burdens low-income women and families, as well as seniors on fixed incomes.

“At the core this bill is about dignity. The cost of essential products has real impacts on people, financial impacts of course, but also on their core dignity,” said Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod.

Eleven states currently exempt diapers from sales tax, according to the National Diaper Bank, while two others specifically exempt adult incontinence products. The advocacy group Period Equity calculates 23 states either exempt menstrual products from sales tax, or have no statewide sales tax.