FLORIDA — While it may pale in comparison to the $22 million bill for workforce development or the $30 million bill to rescue dying manatees, Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book couldn’t help but voice a cheer on Friday as she watched Gov. Ron DeSantis sign the Legislatures 2022 tax relief package.
Included in the package is an item Book has been fighting for since her first term in the Senate in 2017 — tax-free diapers for Florida families.
“After more than five years fighting, the governor signed one of my longstanding priories in the 2022 tax package: the removal of the sales tax on diapers,” said Book, D-Plantation. “I’ve been fighting to provide families relief since my own kids were in diapers because parents should not bear a tax burden on essential items to keep their children safe and comfortable.”
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Book knows all too well the impact something as basic as diapers can have on a young family’s budget after spending double on diapers when her twins, Kennedy and Hudson, now 5, were babies.
“When one in three Florida families struggle to pay for diapers, especially in the midst of the ongoing affordability crisis, this is the kind of legislation that makes a difference in people’s daily lives,” Book said.
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According to the National Diaper Bank Network, 95 percent of mothers use disposable diapers and one in three said they cut back on basic essentials to afford them.
Research indicates babies go through between about 3,000 to 3,500 diapers per year. That adds up to $80 to $120 per month.
The sales tax relief for diapers, which takes effect July 1, is only for a year but Book said she’s already working on legislation to make it permanent.
“While this will truly help families across the state, the agreement only includes infant diapers for one year,” she said. “I will continue to advocate for a permanent exemption on all diapers, including adult incontinence products, next session to ensure our seniors are covered, too.”
Book has filed the same legislation for tax-free diapers each year without success until this year when she found a champion in the Republican governor.
DeSantis, whose wife, Casey, gave birth to their third child in 2020, thanked Book and the bill’s House sponsor Anna V. Eskamani, D-Orlando, for pushing the effort forward.
“It wasn’t my idea, give them credit. They did a tax holiday for diapers,” DeSantis said. “All of you know how much these diapers cost. My oldest is out of them. My middle kid’s almost out of them, but I got the one little girl that still has a lot of diapers left, and so that is going to be a huge relief to a lot of parents throughout the state of Florida.”
The bill actually came up short again this year, but at Eskamani’s urging, the House decided to insert the one-year tax exemption into the budget at the 11th hour.
“As ranking member of the Ways & Means Committee, I am committed to making life easier for working families and everyday people in Florida,” Eskamani said. “That’s why I am thrilled to see a one-year tax break on the sale of children’s diapers be integrated into the 2022 Florida tax package. Disposable diapers can create a significant cost burden for low-income families and cannot be purchased with food stamps either. This is a success for Florida’s families and our ultimate goal is to make this tax break permanent.”
“The care of young children comes with tremendous costs,” Book said. “Florida families are facing especially difficult times right now and we owe it to them to no longer tax necessary health care items like diapers. Book said in a statement. “When one in three Florida families struggle to pay for diapers — especially in the midst of the ongoing affordability crisis — this is the kind of legislation that makes a difference in people’s daily lives.”
Inflation combined with supply issues, rising gas prices, increases in insurance rates and escalating housing costs are taking their toll on Florida families, Eskamani said.
“This tax exemption will help ensure that a parent never hesitates before putting a fresh, clean diaper on their child when needed,” Book added. “It’s time to stop taxing Florida families for essential health care items. For the health, safety and dignity of families, Florida should join other states across the country and stop taxing these necessary health care items.”
Included in the tax exemption are single-use diapers, reusable diapers and reusable diaper inserts as well as clothing and shoes for children ages 5 or younger.
The bill will provide $38.9 million in tax relief for diapers for Florida families and another $81.5 million for baby and toddler clothes and shoes.
Other items for newborns are already tax-free, including baby food, formula and teething lotion.
“There are diaper banks who are watching right now who are so excited for this,” Eskamani said.
DeSantis said he specifically directed the Legislature to come up with tax relief package that helped Florida families fight inflation.
The $1.2 bill tax relief package includes 10 tax holidays for items commonly purchased by families including gas, disaster supplies, tools and back-to-school supplies.
“Florida’s economy has consistently outpaced the nation, but we are still fighting against inflationary policies imposed on us by the Biden administration,” said DeSantis. “In Florida, we are going to support our residents and help them afford the goods that they need. Florida has been fiscally responsible, so we are in a good position to provide meaningful relief for families, right now.”
- The 10 tax holidays are:
- A one-month fuel tax holiday from Oct. 1 to 31, saving Floridians $200 million by lowering the price of gas by 25.3 cents per gallon.
- A three-month sales tax holiday for children’s books from May 14 to Aug. 14, providing $3.3 million in tax relief.
- A one-year sales tax holiday from July 1 through June 30, 2023, for baby and toddler clothes and shoes, providing $81.5 million in tax relief.
- A one-year sales tax holiday from July 1 through June 30, 2023, for children’s diapers, providing $38.9 million in tax relief.
- A 14-day back-to-school sales tax holiday from July 25 through Aug. 7 for clothing, shoes, backpacks and school supplies, providing $100 million in tax relief.
- A 14-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday from May 28 through June 10 for supplies such as flashlights, radios, tarps, batteries and fire extinguishers, providing $25.6 million in tax relief.
- A seven-day “tool-time” sales tax holiday from Sept. 3 to Sept. 9 for tools and other home improvement items, providing $12.4 million in tax relief.
- A two-year sales tax holiday from July 1 through June 30, 2024, for impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors, providing $442.8 million in tax relief.
- A seven-day Freedom Week from July 1 to July 7, providing a sales tax exemption for specified admissions and items related to recreational activities, providing $70.6 million in tax relief.
- A one-year Energy Star appliances sales tax holiday from July 1 through June 30, 2023, for washing machines, clothes dryers, water heaters and refrigerators, providing $78.5 million in tax relief.
Additionally, permanent tax relief provided in the legislation consists of various sales tax exemptions, corporate income tax credit expansions and ad valorem tax and exemption provisions that will generate an additional $190 million in tax savings over two years and $140 million annually after that.
Residents can find additional information about the tax holidays here.
A one-pager on the bill can be found here.
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