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So-called ‘tampon tax’ exemption defeated

House committee votes down bill to exempt hygiene items and diapers from sales tax.

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Rep. Susan Duckworth D-Magna, chief sponsor of HB202, talks about the bill during discussion of the bill in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, February 10, 2016. The bill was seeking to eliminate tax on tampons, diapers and other hygiene products. The motion to recommend failed in an 8-3 vote.

Utah lawmakers on Wednesday killed a proposed sales-tax break on feminine hygiene products, diapers, and underwear and liners for incontinence.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee defeated HB202 by an 8-3 margin.

"This is not considered a tampon tax," said Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, sponsor of HB202. "It can affect men and women and children in the state."

She argued that "personal hygiene items are necessary and very expensive," and therefore should not be taxed. Duckworth said the state has used similar arguments to exempt prescription drugs from tax and to charge reduced tax on food.

She said seniors who use diapers would save an estimated $82 a year in taxes. Parents of babies in diapers would save about $50 a year. She said women spend an estimated $1,800 during their lives in taxes on feminine hygiene products.

"Up to a million families in our state can benefit from these savings," and plug it back into the economy, she said. "Please help me help them."

No one testified for or against the bill. But fiscal analysts estimated the change could cost the state $1.7 million a year in lost revenue while budgets are tight.

Committee Chairman Dan McCay, R-Riverton, said the bill could upset work by his panel through the years to remove exemptions to sales tax and make it predictable, "and not have subjective variations on what the exemptions are and what they are not."

Among the few people voting for the bill were the only two Democrats on the committee — Reps. Joel Briscoe and Brian King, D-Salt Lake City — and Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns.

"These are not optional items," Briscoe said. "They are necessary for good health and hygiene."

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