Proposal under consideration to exempt diapers from sales tax

VIDEO: Push to end diaper tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The cost of diapers is becoming a problem for some Washington families who can't afford to keep their babies changed and dry.

Now the state legislature is offering a plan to help in the form of a tax break.

That's because anyone who buys diapers has to pay the sales tax.

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Amalia Burns agreed to meet at Eastside Baby Corner to talk about the high cost of diapers, which she says is critical to raising her two young daughters.

She says she has left them on her children longer than she would like.

"Sometimes, instead of changing a diaper for, like, say, one pee," she said, "I'd go until, like, two pees."

And when that isn't savings enough, she said, "I have to start thinking about what I'm going to cut out, what don't I need. And there's been months where I go without a phone."

Helen Banks Routon is EBC's director of development and community relations.

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​"A lot of it is just diapers are expensive," Banks Routonsaid . "They're up to a $100-a-month-per-child."

She says when a family can't afford enough diapers, everyone's health suffers.

"That child then gets severe diaper rash or a urinary tract infection from not having their diaper changed," Banks Routon said. "Then they're fussy and crying all the time.  And that can lead to a very dangerous cycle."

"We have introduced legislation that would focus on exempting sales tax for the price of diapers," said State Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way.

She and her legislative colleagues have gotten the message.

"And what we've come to learn is that programs that the state offers, like, women and infant children and assistance for needy families," Reeves said, but "those programs don't even cover the cost of diapers. And so it's a challenge that we really need to address."

Eastside Baby Corner gives out more than a million diapers a year. But that's just enough to give Amalia and others like her family only about half the diapers they need.

They have to somehow pay for the rest.

Why disposable diapers? Banks Routon says there are several reasons disposables are the diapers of choice.

Cloth diapers aren't accepted by day care centers. And day cares won't accept a child unless the family leaves a certain number of diapers.

Cloth diapers can't legally be washed in communal washing machines. So if a family relies on public washing machines, they have no place to wash the soiled diapers.

KIRO 7 will follow the progress of the bill as it makes its way through the legislature.