Diaper Subsidy Program in WA
In 2022, the Washington State Legislature approved SB 5838, The End Diaper Need Act. This bill created a diaper subsidy program that increases the cash benefit by $100 per month for households with a child under the age of 3 receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or State Family Assistance. The funding is intended to assist with the cost of diapers as described in Chapter 100, Laws of 2022 (SSB 5838). The benefit increase is effective November 1, 2023.
Washington’s program is based off a program in California but offers broader eligibility and will put more money directly in the hands of low-income families each month to buy diapers and wipes. This will be an automatic payment for families receiving TANF benefits and does not require any sort of additional application process.
WestSide Baby is thrilled that this policy solution will become a reality! Many thanks to our legislative champions, state agency partners, and fellow advocates for paving the way for this important legislation and acknowledging the high cost of diapers for families.
Sales Tax on Diapers
For families already living on a limited income, a total of 10.1% in taxes on a necessary and costly item such as a diaper has huge negative impacts on financial decisions. At WestSide Baby, we have heard stories of mothers choosing to keep their baby in a wet diaper all night to prolong its use, or to use t-shirts, towels and other household items to make up for being out of diapers. Additionally, the privilege of buying cheaper diapers in bulk, at a big box store or online is not available to all families when costly
memberships or public transportation are a barrier. Families living in poverty may pay double what higher-income families pay because of this diaper price disparity.
- If Seattle were to exempt diapers from the city sales tax, families with newborns would be able to purchase 12 additional diapers a month with the $3 saved on sales tax per month.
- If Washington State also exempted diapers from sales tax, families would be able to purchase 19 additional diapers per month.
- As of May 5, 2023, 28 states currently charge sales tax on diapers, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. Children require at least 50 diaper changes per week or 200 diaper changes per month. By reducing the sales tax, families can buy 2 additional diapers for every percentage point reduction in the sales tax for the same money they would have used to buy 200 diapers with tax.
With Governor Jay Inslee’s signature, we move closer to our shared vision of every child having their basic human needs met. Our deepest gratitude to our partners and community for your support in making this historic investment happen!