Interim committee examines potential tax exemption for diapers

by Jordan Hensley, Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT — Diapers are in high demand across Kentucky, and some families struggle to pay the cost.

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-Louisville, shared her plan with the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue to file a bill next year that would make infant and adult diapers in Kentucky tax-exempt.

“It has a simple purpose: Make diapers more affordable for families in Kentucky,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting. 

In Kentucky, families can spend up to $2,000 a year on diapers, Chambers Armstrong said. A current draft of her proposed legislation would make diapers exempt from the state’s sales and use tax beginning Aug. 1, 2024. A fiscal impact statement estimates the bill would decrease the general fund by $6.1 million.

Families struggling to afford diapers sometimes have to visit diaper banks or find ways to make their current supply last for as long as it can, Chambers Armstrong said. Nationwide, 1 in 2 families struggle to afford diapers.

“Some families resort to washing and reusing disposable diapers, turning them inside out or leaving their child in the same diaper all day hoping that child won’t develop a severe enough diaper rash that they will need to go to the hospital,” she said. 

Currently, 18 other states and Washington D.C. have made diapers sales tax-exempt.

“The results are remarkable,” Chambers Armstrong said. “We see families in low-income neighborhoods buy 6% more diapers, and we see the purchase of children’s pain medications in those same neighborhoods decrease by 6.2%.

Babies are healthier, they aren’t getting severe diaper rash, and families are better able to meet their needs.”

This bill would also help adults and caregivers of adults with disabilities and other health-issues that require the use of an adult diaper.

Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, asked if Chambers Armstrong’s bill would include or exclude families already receiving public assistance.

Chambers Armstrong said the bill would include everyone in Kentucky.

“One of the things about diaper need is that there are no public assistance programs that cover it,” she said. “So a family that can’t afford diapers can’t go to Medicaid or WIC for that need.”

Rep. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, asked if the $6.1 million general fund impact would be higher.

Chambers Armstrong reasoned that it wouldn’t be because families will take their savings on diapers and spend it on other things the child needs.

“We know that families, whenever they are undergoing the financial strain of having a new child, every dollar you put into their pocket they reinvest into buying things for that child,” she said.

During the interim, the Kentucky General Assembly cannot take any action on legislation. The 2024 legislative session begins Jan. 2.

The next Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue meeting is currently scheduled for Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. For more information, visit

A draft of Chambers Armstrong’s bill is available here.

Photo: Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-Louisville, holding up a receipt that demonstrates how much diapers cost in Kentucky. (LRC PIO)