North Dakota lawmakers vote to make diapers tax free

Supporters of Rep. SuAnn Olson’s bill said it would benefit young families in a small but meaningful way at the checkout lane.

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North Dakota Rep. SuAnn Olson, R-Baldwin, speaks in the House chamber on Feb. 17, 2023. Olson sponsored a bill to exempt baby diapers from sales tax.
Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK — A proposal to exempt baby diapers from North Dakota sales tax has won over state lawmakers.

The North Dakota Senate voted 39-6 on Monday, April 10, to approve House Bill 1177, sponsored by Rep. SuAnn Olson, R-Baldwin. The legislation that would make diapers tax free received support Monday from a dozen Republican senators who had previously voted against it.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in February, will go to Gov. Doug Burgum. The exemption would take effect July 1 if Burgum signs the legislation.

Goods sold in North Dakota are subject to a 5% tax, plus local taxes of up to 3%. The revenue brought into the state through sales and use taxes — between $800 million and $1.1 billion a year — is critical to the operation of government programs.

Over the years, the Legislature has exempted dozens of products from sales tax, including most food, prescription drugs, medical devices and farm equipment. Adult diapers already are exempt from sales tax.


Exempting children’s diapers from sales tax would cost the state an estimated $800,000 a year in lost tax revenue, according to a fiscal note.

Supporters of Olson’s bill said it would benefit young families in a small but meaningful way at the checkout lane. The legislation carried the endorsement of North Dakota Right to Life and other anti-abortion advocates.

Bill opponents contended sales tax carve-outs are generally bad policy since the levy is meant to be collected on a wide range of sold goods.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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