AUSTIN (KXAN) — Senate Bill 379, which removes state sales taxes from the purchase of several items, including bandages, diapers and menstrual products, passed the Texas Legislature during the state’s legislative session. It goes into effect Sept. 1.

The bill also adds exemptions for baby wipes, maternity clothing, baby bottles and breast milk pumping and storage products.

“We are thrilled to see Texas prioritize the health and well-being of families, babies and women by removing the sales tax on essential items. This is a great step towards a healthier Texas,” Holly McDaniel, executive director of Austin Diaper Bank, said.

So far in 2023, Austin Diaper Bank provided 519,670 diapers to families, 8,415 baby wipes, 68,119 menstrual supplies and 1,622 containers of formula, according to its website. The website also claimed the nonprofit gives out 150,000 diapers each month.

“A newborn will use up to ten diapers every day, which can be really expensive,” McDaniel said. “[The exemption is] about an $87-100 per year savings for each family or for each baby. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that actually can go into buying a whole week’s worth of groceries for a family of four, it can buy eyeglasses for students. It will have a big impact on families here in Texas.”

McDaniel said the bill represents seven years of effort by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, and advocates.

“Here in Texas, we are seeing more babies, there’s a lot more babies being born,” McDaniel said. “As a state, it’s nice to see them stand up and say they’ll help, that they need to be part of the solution and make sure that we’re taking care of families.”

Howard sent a statement to KXAN:

“The Tax FREE (Family Relief for Everyday Essentials) Act provides Texans with sales tax relief at every stage of life. It is a bill that is years in the making and would not have been possible without the support of advocates from across the state. As a result of our efforts, this session we were able to finally pass a sales tax exception for not only menstrual products and diapers, but for nursing bras, maternity clothes, baby wipes, and bottles as well. This bill is the first of its kind in the United States and I hope other states will follow our lead. I am grateful to Sen. Huffman for championing this effort with me and am proud of what we accomplished.”

Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin

For taxable products, Texas sales tax is 6.25% of a product’s value, and municipalities can also impose an additional sales tax of up to 2%, according to the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

A fiscal analysis by the Legislative Budget Board forecasted the exemptions would remove $226.7 million from the state budget. Leading into the legislative session, Texas had a $32.7 billion budget surplus, which makes the tax revenue loss only .7% of the surplus.

In 2022, the City of Austin and Austin ISD made menstrual products freely available at the following locations:

  • AISD schools
  • City-owned showers and bathrooms accessible to people experiencing homelessness;
  • Austin Public Health facilities that serve the public, including neighborhood centers and sexual health clinics;
  • Austin Public Library facilities; and,
  • City-owned community recreation centers and summer camps.