Earlier this week, HB22-1055, a bill being led by the Don’t Tax Dignity Coalition and proudly supported by Illuminate Colorado, passed its first hearing with a bipartisan vote of 8-3 in the House Finance Committee. HB22-1055 Sales Tax Exemption Essential Hygiene Products has the capacity to strengthen families’ economic security by creating a state sales tax exemption for all sales, storage, use and consumption of diapers and menstrual products.

Diaper Access Can Affect the Whole Family

Increasing the affordability of families’ basic and essential products, such as infant diapers and menstrual products, promotes multiple protective factors proven to prevent child maltreatment, including concrete support and parental resilience. Treating these items as essential could help build protective factors in millions of Coloradans, including the more than 202,000 children under 3 years of age and their families.1

What are the protective factors?

Protective factors help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities. The five protective factors have been shown to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for children and families. The five protective factors are:

    • Parental Resilience
    • Social Connections
    • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
    • Concrete Support in Times of Need
    • Social and Emotional Competence of Children

The average Colorado family spends about $80 a month (almost $1,000 per year) per child under 3 for diapers and about $15 a month (almost $200 per year) on period products per family member who needs them.1 One in three of these families report needing more diapers but not being able to afford them, and some parents report missing up to four days of work per month because they cannot provide enough diapers to their child care provider.2Colorado can take the first step toward changing that by ensuring that these essential products are not taxed.

In addition to strengthening the economic security of all Colorado families, increasing the affordability of these essential products supports the advancement of equity in Colorado.

    • State sales taxes on these essential products are shouldered predominantly by female-identifying individuals.
    • Sales taxes disproportionately impact the budgets of individuals and families with lower incomes, and programs that typically help individuals purchase other essential items, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), commonly called food stamps, and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), which provides food access for families with young children, don’t allow for the purchase of these essential items.
    • Black and Latino families in Colorado are already more likely to struggle with access to these essential products as a result of historical and ongoing systemic inequities.

It’s Time for a Change

The time is now to start treating these essential products the same way we treat other essentials, like food and medicine. The Colorado legislature already acknowledged the essential nature of diapers for children by developing a grant program last year allowing families struggling financially to receive help to get the products they need, and HB22-1055 is an opportunity to build on this momentum. Illuminate Colorado is thrilled that our state’s elected officials have taken the first step toward doing so by passing the bill with bipartisan support through the House Finance Committee and referring it to the House Appropriations Committee. 

Join Illuminate in thanking the bill’s sponsors (Rep. Lontine and Rep. Herod) and the House Finance Committee for taking action to strengthen families’ economic security and reduce parenting stress, two critical strategies for preventing child maltreatment and promoting child health and development. 

Citations

1. Don’t Tax Dignity Coalition. (n.d.). Don’t Tax Dignity. Retreived February 27, 2022, from https://www.donttaxdignity.co/ 

2. National Diaper Bank Network. (2021, March). Colorado Diaper Facts. https://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2020_State_Diaper_Facts_3_2021_Colorado_V1.pdf 

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