Holmes: ‘Luxury’ Tax Puts Unfair Burden on Women, Families for Basic Necessities 

In my role as President & CEO of Affinia Healthcare, I am committed to closing gaps and eliminating barriers to healthcare access. This commitment sometimes uncovers inequity and barriers in places society may have overlooked.  

Every week, families line up at our locations for the diaper giveaways we hold for our community. A necessity for our youngest and most vulnerable members of the community, and still, many parents struggle to afford diapers. So why do Missouri tax diapers and feminine hygiene products at a ‘luxury’ tax rate?  

In the Show-Me-State, the tax levied on the purchase of diapers and feminine hygiene products is 4.225 percent, a rate so high that it is considered a luxury tax rate. The tax rate for groceries is 1.225 percent. 

So why would a community health center be concerned about tax rates for diapers and feminine care items? Eliminating the luxury tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products significantly benefits young families, women, and girls across Missouri. According to an op-ed on February 23, 2023, Missouri Times, about one in three U.S. parents with children between 0-3 have trouble affording enough diapers for their children. In addition to the financial burden, adequate diaper changes help prevent children from developing urinary tract infections and skin infections. This tax cut will help Missouri parents meet their children’s health needs in addition to freeing up needed funds for other critical expenses. 

This same tax cut will help the Missouri girls and women who have reported missing school, or using paper towels, old clothes, and other unhygienic items in place of pads and tampons because they can’t afford to purchase enough feminine hygiene products every month. 

This luxury tax rate affects the health and safety of the families, women, and children in our community and that makes it a priority for Affinia Healthcare. Bills have been introduced in Jefferson City this year to either reduce or eliminate the tax on these items, but none have reached the floor for a vote. We need our legislators to prioritize the health and safety of our women and children by either reducing or eliminating this luxury tax on these basic life necessities. 

Dr. Kendra Holmes is the President & CEO of Affinia Healthcare.