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Vouchers for Feminine Hygiene Products and Diapers

February 4, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Feminine hygiene products and diapers (both infant and adult incontinence) are considered luxury items, not necessities, and are not exempted from sales tax. The current tax in Missouri on such products is 4.2%, however, HB 406, HB 699, HB 793, and HB 899 propose to bring the tax down to 1.2%. Low-income individuals and families struggle to afford feminine hygiene products and diapers. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs (SNAP) and SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) do not allow the purchase feminine hygiene products or diapers. A voucher program that assists those living in poverty to purchase feminine hygiene products and diapers, that functions similarly or as an additive service to SNAP or WIC, would be the first of its kind in the United States.

Highlights

  • Approximately 13% of Missourians earn below the federal poverty line. Poverty disproportionately affects women and ethnic minorities.
  • In an analysis of 183 female survey responses from St. Louis, almost 50% of the women surveyed could not afford to buy both feminine hygiene products and food between 2017 and 2018.
  • Low-income families and elderly individuals struggle to afford diapers and incontinence products. In Missouri, 19% of families with toddlers or infants earn below the poverty line.

Limitations

  • It is unknown how including vouchers for such products would increase the cost of existing supplemental assistance programs.
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