UACES Facebook Group Seeks to End Sales Tax on Tampons, Diapers
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Group Seeks to End Sales Tax on Tampons, Diapers

by Kristin Higgins - September 28, 2023

Supporters of a state law to remove sales tax from menstrual products turned in a new ballot title Wednesday, and added diapers to the list of items they seek to exempt from local and state taxes.

The Arkansas Period Poverty Project and attorney David Couch made the changes to their proposal after Attorney General Tim Griffin rejected the original 45-word ballot title that sought to remove sales tax from "feminine hygiene products."

Couch said people kept asking the group why diapers weren't included. The group eventually polled followers on social media whether to add diapers.

"As a result of the publicity generated by the AG's denial of the ballot title there were many comments about adding diapers and it convinced us it was needed," Couch said.

Why the AG Rejected The First Ballot Title

The Attorney General's Office is tasked with certifying that ballot measures are free from being misleading to voters. The office is required to respond to citizen ballot issue groups within 10 business days.

In Attorney General Opinion 2023-084, the state's attorney wrote that the definition of "feminine hygiene products" could be confusing.

"Specifically, the text of your proposed measure is ambiguous because it fails to address whether the measure would remove Arkansas from compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement," the opinion prepared by Senior Assistant Attorney General Kelly Summerside stated.

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement referred to in the opinion is an agreement between states on the definition of products that are exempt from sales tax. The ballot title uses the definition of feminine hygiene products, but didn't include the agreement's full statement that says grooming products are not included.

What The New Proposed Title Says

The second attempt at a ballot title - 75 words this time - includes the language telling voters that grooming products are excluded. It also now includes sales tax exemptions for child and adult diapers.

Attempts To Remove Sales Tax on Menstrual Products

In 2021, Rep. Aaron Pilkington submitted a proposal to end sales tax on feminine hygiene products using the exact language in the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.

A Department of Finance and Administration fiscal impact statement estimated that exempting the products would result in a reduction of $2.3 million in state sales tax and $766,667 less in county and city sales taxes.

The proposal was assigned to the House Committee on Revenue & Taxation, where it was never voted on before adjournment.

Of the 45 states that charge taxes on sales, 25 states have exempted period products, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies.

Citizen Ballot Issues

Citizen ballot issue groups seeking to place constitutional amendments or state laws on next year's ballot will have until July to collect and turn in voter signatures.

There are no citizen-initiated ballot petitions currently in circulation.

A lawsuit over the number of counties where voter signatures must be gathered continues.