To combat ‘rash’ inflation, Ohio considers eliminating diaper tax

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Posted at 6:16 PM, Jun 21, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bipartisan bill in the Ohio House would eliminate the sales tax for child and adult diapers, attempting to combat inflation to help struggling families save money.

One in three families struggle with having enough diapers for their kids, according to the Diaper Bank of Greater Cleveland, and some resource groups say the struggle's only gotten worse because of inflation.

People buying diapers recently have felt the pinch. A box of 72 can set a shopper back about $43, but that is before the sales tax. That could be another $3.50.

"In regards to diapers and wipes and formula, you can't even imagine how fast you go through," Karen Potter, a Northeast Ohio grandmother, said. "You can't keep track, it goes that fast."

Potter is a grandmother of two boys under the age of four. The child care products get used quickly and the rate they fly off the shelves is also causing anxiety for families, she added.

"Things for children under five were expensive to begin with," she said. "Now you add in all these shortages, and you add in the inflation and you add in low supply."

Lake County Treasurer Michael Zuren hosts frequent diaper drives hoping to provide some relief but said it's time for our lawmakers to step up.

"It's not happening on the federal level, so we need to do it in the state of Ohio," Zuren said. "Reducing the taxes is a great idea."

State Rep. Shayla Davis, a Democrat from Garfield Heights, agreed, cosponsoring House Bill 695, a bipartisan bill that would eliminate the sales tax for child and adult diapers.

"If families are unable to do those essential things, what then happens to their child?" the Democrat asked. "We know we're in this kind of post-COVID situation where people are still struggling with a lot of things and they don't need this added on."

Davis and other lawmakers said they hope those extra dollars saved each week help alleviate the stress for thousands of working families struggling to cover the bills.

Programs like Women, Infants, and Children do not cover the costs of diapers, which Davis said can hurt lower-income and single-parent families.

"Most of my district is extremely poor — it's one of the poorest districts in the state of Ohio," the lawmaker said. "Not only are people hurting for adequate child care, but they're also hurting to be able to supply the necessary things for their young children and families, like formula and diapers."

The bill's primary sponsors state Reps. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) and Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe).

"Eliminating the diaper tax is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will put money back into the pockets of working families,” Smith said.

H.B. 695 is part of a greater Democratic legislative package. Other bills include:

  • Creating the Infant Formula Tax Credit.
  • Establishing the Ohio Safe Sleep and Baby Box Program.
  • Requiring insurance coverage of medically necessary donor human milk.
  • Creating the Infant Nutrition Protection Act.
  • Enacting the Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

"Inflation has definitely hit everybody very hard," Zuren said. "This [sales tax elimination] is desperately needed and really will help defray the cost of inflation for families."

Democrats have argued there is significantly more to be done to help prepare families for children, in addition to after birth — especially with inflation, the shortages and the possibility that many more children are going to be born if Ohio outlaws abortion.

"I think there's more work to be done, but you got to start somewhere," Potter said. "I think this is the right place to do it."

Lake County Baby Formula & Diaper Collection has partnered with numerous restaurants throughout the county and will be distributing products at Willow Praise Church at 32901 Vine St. in Willowick on July 23.

If anyone would like to donate or have their business added as a drop-off location, Zuren can be reached at 440-251-5381.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.