Capitol Alert

Tampons, diapers and marijuana: California Democrats propose tax cuts and aid to renters

California Democrats are proposing some tax cuts on these items

California Democrats have several bills to ease the tax burden on the poor, as well as the struggling legal marijuana industry. The bills would cut the sales tax on legal marijuana, tampons and diapers, help renters.
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California Democrats have several bills to ease the tax burden on the poor, as well as the struggling legal marijuana industry. The bills would cut the sales tax on legal marijuana, tampons and diapers, help renters.

Democrats often are painted by their Republican adversaries as being the party of tax-raisers, and it’s true that California Democrats have introduced a raft of new proposed taxes and fees in the Legislature.

But Democratic lawmakers have also introduced a number of tax-reducing proposals for consideration.

Among the proposals aimed at providing tax relief to Californians include bills to exempt diapers and menstrual products from the state sales tax, a bill to temporarily lower the cannabis excise tax and outright eliminate the cultivation tax, and a tax credit aimed at addressing the state’s skyrocketing rent.

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Diapers

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to create a subsidy to help poor mothers afford diapers.

This year, lawmakers will consider Assembly Bill 66, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, that would exempt the sale of infant and toddler diapers — up to size 3 — from the state sales tax.

“Every baby needs diapers. The fact that we tax diapers is unfair and it’s a burdensome tax that hurts working class and middle class families. California can do better,” Gonzalez said in a statement supporting her bill.

Gonzalez’ office said the exemption could save families $100 per child every year.

Menstrual products

Gonzalez also is a co-sponsor on another sales tax exemption bill, this one aimed at ending the tax on menstrual products.

Assembly Bill 31 would exempt sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual sponges and cups from the sales tax.

Californians pay more than $20 million in taxes on menstrual products, according to bill co-sponsor Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, who calls herself the “Tampon Queen.”

“The bottom line is we cannot balance the budget on a person’s uterus,” Garcia said in a statement supporting her bill. “Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are being taxed for being born with a uterus.”

Cannabis

Grow or sell marijuana? The state could soon make your tax bill a little lighter.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, has introduced Assembly Bill 286, which would temporarily lower the excise tax on cannabis sales —from 15 percent to 11 percent — and suspend the state’s cannabis cultivation tax.

Bonta’s bill is part of an effort to crack down on black market drug traffickers by giving licensed sellers the ability to compete.

“The legal cannabis businesses are at a huge disadvantage,” said co-sponsor Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale. “Because right now, it’s an uneven playing field that we can’t even out. But there are certain things that we can actually do to have meaningful benefit.”

Renters credit

Think the rent is “too damn high?” Help might be on the way.

Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, has introduced Senate Bull 248, which would create a tax credit that could help an estimated 2.4 million renters.

“Housing costs are going through the roof in California and families are struggling to pay the rent,” Glazer said in a statement announcing his bill. “Forty years have passed since the last time the renter’s credit was increased, so it’s about time we provide this needed financial relief to renters.”

Single filers making $41,641 or less, and joint filers making $83,282 or less, would be eligible for a tax credit up to $434 under the legislation.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


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