generic plastic bag

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week voted 9-1 to approve a 5-cent tax on plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores.

The tax will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Supervisor Pat Herrity of the Springfield district cast the only dissenting vote.

The Virginia General Assembly approved legislation in 2020 allowing localities to impose a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic bags at grocery, convenience and drug stores, with some exceptions.

The state code requires retailers to collect the tax proceeds in a similar manner to sales and meals taxes. Through Dec. 31, 2022, retailers can keep 2 cents from the tax collected on each bag, with the retailers’ share dropping to 1 cent starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Revenues from such taxes must be for specific activities like environmental cleanup, pollution mitigation and providing reusable bags to people on federal food support programs, according to a staff report to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors prepared by Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill.

The Virginia Department of Taxation created a fiscal impact statement with the legislation that said the tax could generate between $20.8 million and $24.9 million in revenue statewide based on similar taxes in Montgomery County, Md., and Washington, D.C.

Hill’s report said that Montgomery County, which has about 1 million residents, received about $2.61 million in revenue in 2017. Hill’s report noted that the revenue would decline over time as customers start using reusable bags, although it will take several years.

He wrote that it would be difficult to estimate potential revenues because Virginia’s legislation applies only to certain retailers while Montgomery County’s applies to virtually all and doesn’t have certain exemptions.

Earlier this year, Prince William County supervisors began drafting a similar plastic bag tax but decided to wait until after the fiscal 2022 budget was passed.

InsideNoVa staff writer Nolan Stout contributed to this story.

(4) comments

Harry Morant

John is taking a strange position, instead if taxing bags he should be whining about banning them, wouldn’t that be better for the environment Johnny? But then the Lefty government would not have a new source of funding to line their pockets with, now would they?

Paul Benedict

What they should have done is created an educational program to explain to Democrats how to use a garbage can. Now Democrats will continue to litter their plastic bags across the landscape and into rivers and lakes. But, government will get a bigger cut of the action.

John Dutko

It's just weird that Republicans want to keep plastic bags and cannot adapt with a changing environment. Luddites, all of them.

Paul Benedict

John below thinks that a tax on plastic bags will reduce plastic bags. It won't. Cities with a plastic bag tax are deteriorating rapidly:

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