NEW ORLEANS - Councilmember Helena Moreno has filed an ordinance to exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from local sales taxes, lowering the costs for these essential items during the pandemic-induced economic downturn. Unlike many other essential health products that are available tax-free, feminine health products like tampons and diapers are not exempt from taxation, enacting an unnecessary premium on products mostly bought by women as a part of daily life.
"A report from United Way of Southeast Louisiana shows that in New Orleans close to 60% of single-family households led by women are living in poverty. Now during this pandemic, the struggles for some families are insurmountable. We must find all different types of approaches to provide aid, and this is one of them. Ultimately, this exemption is common sense. It's also the fair thing to do because let's face it; this tax is discriminatory. Women should not pay a premium on essential products simply due to their gender - it's just wrong," said Councilmember Moreno.
According to Lift Louisiana, the average annual cost to buy diapers for one child is $1460. Exempting the local 5% sales tax from diapers would result in a family saving close to $73 in sales tax per child annually. Lift also calculates that the average woman spends close to $160 on feminine hygiene products per year; this exemption would save $7.95 in sales tax annually. Estimates by Lift predict this exemption could lead to roughly $2.5M in sales tax savings for New Orleanians.
"We applaud Councilwoman Moreno for prioritizing this issue," said Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana. "Taxing essential products like diapers and tampons is an immoral financial burden that we have fought to eliminate for years. Ending this tax will put more money in the pockets of women and families at a time when people in our city are really struggling, and every cent matters."
Former Senator JP Morrell led the effort in 2019 to create a statewide exemption of the "pink tax," unfortunately, the legislation failed to pass. Since then, work has been underway to create local tax exemptions. In December, the Council unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilmember Moreno, urging the Legislature to allow for the local tax exemption of the "pink tax."
Rep. Aimee Freeman agreed to author the legislation, which was passed in the 2020 regular session and legislation went into effect August 1. The legislation sunsets the exemption at the end of 2021 unless reauthorized by the Legislature.
The first committee meeting on this matter will take place on August 18 before the City Council's Ad Valorem and Dedicated Revenue Special Committee at 1 PM. If passed by the full Council, New Orleans will become the first city in Louisiana to grant a sales tax exemption on feminine hygiene products and diapers.
Chief of Staff
Office of Councilmember-at-Large Helena Moreno