generic plastic bag

Prince William County officials are crafting an ordinance that would implement a tax on plastic bags.

County Executive Chris Martino told the Board of County Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday that officials plan to bring forward additional information about such a tax at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Several residents have been urging the county to implement a bag tax in recent months and use the revenue to fund staff positions focused on sustainability and combating climate change.

Martino said the county probably would not be able to create the infrastructure to implement the tax rate in conjunction with the budget for fiscal 2022, which starts July 1. He said the tax could be approved after the budget.

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.

Martino has proposed a $1.35 billion budget for the 2022 fiscal year, along with a $1.02 billion six-year Capital Improvement Program. The capital program includes $224.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget already comes with a potential 7% increase in real estate tax bills for county homeowners because, although the tax rate isn’t proposed to rise, higher assessments will drive up bills.

The real estate rate has been advertised at $1.125 per $100 of assessed value, but rising property values are expected to increase the average residential homeowner’s tax bill by $306, according to county staff.

The budget proposal says residential real estate values increased by an average of 7%, while commercial real estate values dropped an average of 4.5%. The increased assessments would result in an effective tax increase for residential properties, but a drop for commercial.

The spending plan calls for a $1.60 tax per $100 of value on business computers and peripheral equipment, a 25-cent hike over the current rate. That levy primarily applies to data centers. 

The proposal also includes a 30-cent per pack tax on cigarettes, which would be a new tax estimated to generate $3 million in revenue.

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.


(33) comments

Wake Up & Smell The Coffee!

The People’s Republic of Prince William Board of Supervisors is exercising their (predicted) Socialist ways. After taking the races, there’s no need to be coy. It’s now full steam ahead with new taxes! Stay tuned for a “rain tax” like Maryland-a-Stan!

John Dutko

Wow! You are so clever!

Look at you trying to make a correlation between government officials and the DPRK.

Keep working on that Boomer wit!


Last I checked, grocery stores won't allow you to use your reuseable bags. Do they really think adding an extra nickel or dollar on your bill is going to prevent someone from throwing away their plastic bags. We need to get big pharma to invent a new bag that decomposes safely and quickly like the covid. They were able to do it quickly with the covid vaccine. They just need an incentive.

John Dutko

Vice taxes have been used to change consumers habits. This is no different.

And another wave is coming because people are getting complacent/ansty. Italy and France just hit their third wave.


I support this idea. Perhaps I won't forget my reusable grocery bags as often as I do. There's no reason people can't take reusable bags with them when they shop. It's a good step toward banning them altogether.


So they are going to make a tax to fund a position, then when that tax falls short we have to come up with money (more taxes) from another place to fund that position. Stop with adding more and more people to the government!

Zed Rahl

I never met a tax a democrat didnt like. remember, liberals are really socialist ... they feel they can spend your money more wisely than you ... so hold on to your wallets PW, they're coming for you.

John Dutko

Kinda like how conservatives keep throwing money into the military-industrial-complex and run up the debt and give money to the wealthy (who do not reinvest in our economy). Like that? Cuz they know how to spend your money.

Or like how not a single Republican senator voted for the stimulus bill, yet they will take credit for it.

Bill Rio

Plastic is biodegradable and this tax is a scam.

Find me a plastic bag from the 1990's and I will change my mind.

Jerzy Brick

Plastic is bio-degradable? This is news to me....Which numbered plastic is biodegradable?

You ever hear of the great pacific garbage patch? I find it to be very De-grading, as opposed to Bio-degradable.

Unfortunately, the recycling of plastics has been a sham for quite some time, with the oil companies being behind the fraud of it. But you also have hold the government accountable for being in these oil companies' pockets, and promoting the recycling program in the first place, on both sides. Only recently, due to investigative journalism have the masses' started to really find out about this, myself included.

It is much more affordable for the oil and chemical companies to create new plastic, and it is much more expensive to re-use the plastic. But as far as it being biodegradable, was there a shark tank episode of a patent behind this? If so, I missed it.

Bill Rio

Again, please produce a bag from the 1990's

John Dutko

Will do.

As soon as I get my cut from the trickle-down economics that Reagan promised me.

John Dutko

They were all eaten up by the sea turtles.

Duke Nukem

How does marine life like the taste of disposable face masks? I guess we need to tax and/or stop using masks and just sacrifice ourselves. The cloth ones aren't as effective which you know as you follow the science.

Larry Lyons

Wander through any landfill and dig down about a foot. That may put you at the right layer. You'll find quite a few bags that are NOT decomposed. According to a variety of sources, it takes bags about 500 years to decompose.

John Sebastian

We're exiting a pandemic and apparently the county's answer to that is to mandate people bring their own re-usable bags from home (that practically nobody actually washes) into the stores.

Not to mention the fact that these taxes universally fail, plenty of case studies out of Europe and other US cities prove it. People alter their behavior when the tax is first imposed, so the revenue projections never match up. Not only that, but they eventually go back to using bags after the initial sticker shock, so it never achieves either objective of raising money nor solving any environmental issue (which is not the bags themselves but littering).

Oh, and the tax always disproportionally affects lower-income shoppers. But you already knew that.

Comment deleted.
John Sebastian

99% of bags tested in a 2011 study contained bacteria and 8% tested positive for E. Coli. A follow-up study in 2018 confirmed this. Even doctors advised against using them during the pandemic.

Plenty of balance sheets to look at regarding the tax's implementation in other cities. DC's tax proved the revenue projections were completely wrong as they used Seattle to estimate it and had no system to inventory bag use prior to instituting the tax, merely asked people to estimate, which is a terrible way to forecast behaviors.

Several years later, they found people were not decreasing their use of plastic bags. The only answer DC had (and Ireland before it in 2002, it's not like a bag tax is anything new) was to just keep doubling the tax. And you think that's not going to impact low-income residents? Then again, we can all see the usual drivel you post so I'm guessing you're not having a slow day and are just normally this stupid.

John Dutko

I love that you shared an actual study.

Using the Wayback Machine I was able to bring up the study that the article references from 2011:

Even then, in the 2018 edition ( )

They reiterate that there would be contamination in reusable bags vs disposable ones. However, they also listed common sense recommendations to mitigate these risks:

-Consumers almost never wash reusable bags.

-Bacteria were found in 99% of reusable bags tested, but none in new bags or plastic bags.

-Coliform bacteria were found in 51% of the bags tested, with generic E. coli in 8%.

-Bacteria were capable of growth when stored in the trunks of cars.

-A potential risk of bacterial cross-contamination is associated with use of reusable bags to carry groceries.

-Hand or machine washing reduced the numbers of bacteria in

reusable bags by > 99.9%.

-Instructions should be printed on reusable bags, indicating that they should be washed between uses and that foods that are usually consumed raw should be separated from other food product

I am glad you brought up Ireland and their bag-tax implementation:

And how the rest of the world is moving in this direction anyway:

So what you are whining about is inconvenience. That is what it boils down to. But since we are doing retorts, I'd say you are just being petty and cheap and just generally dissatisfied with your life choices.

Will Blevins

Here comes California to Virginia. These Dumbocrats are going to tax Virginia just like they do California. They just raised everyone's value on their homes to increase revenue. Now you want a plastic bag tax. an tax increase on certain business equipment and a cigarette tax. So why the increase in home values to make home owners pay more at tax time? So that's 4 new taxes in just a few months. How many more are we getting? Are you trying to drive out the poor and make Prince William a county for only the rich?

Change Craford

Why is everything political with most of you Trump supporters? I didn't see you whining about that big tax break for the 1% when Trump was in office or the insurrection attempt by Trump deplorable supporters. You probably are the biggest RINO in PWC.

Jerzy Brick

"The 1%" haha......

"It's a big club, and you ain't in it! You and I are not in the club!" I recommend you watch that George Carlin skit, then tell me how much the Left versus the Right montage has to do with it.

How do you think they keep this crap going?

Jerzy Brick

The only time you ever comment is to make a Political statement because apparently that's the only energy you are able to survive off of. I'm still very sorry for your loss, regardless.

Bill Rio

How do you know he is a Trump supporter because he doesn't support far-left policies? Honestly, it is you that I always see call people "Trumpers" and bring Left/Right politics into everything. You should look in the mirror... or your past comments.

John Dutko

The terminology used is a big indicator. "Libtards, Dumbocrats, Demonrats, etc..." are all attempts to belittle a persons political belief.

The grammar structure is the same as many other postings across the different mediums.

Intent to incite is also another attribute as well as a persecution complex.

The combination of all of these elements most likely will identify someone as a Trump or Qanon supporter.

Larry Lyons

When the person starts flinging words like Dumbocrat like how monkeys fling feces, it's a pretty good guess that he is a tRumpanzee.

Will Blevins

This is the ignorance of most people. I HATE the far right and far left because of their extremists views. People like you automatically think I am one way or another because I disagree with the right or left policies. I DISLIKE taxes, and I DO NOT want Virginia to turn into a Californian state where every thing that you can touch is taxed. I have a nickname for Republicans that I cannot post here. I will never align myself with any political party because all they do is what's in the best interest of the party, not the people.

Duke Nukem

Ah yes the insurrection staged by a bunch of unarmed idiots taking selfies and stealing souvenirs. Imagine if they were Antifa/BLM then the building would still be on fire. Hey I'm sure there were some Antifa/BLM there. It's not like the FBI would let us know would they.

John Dutko

I love reading the dockets of those that were arrested. How stupid do you have to be to trespass on the frickin Capital building. Never mind all the political stuff. Just concentrate on the stupidity displayed live on national television as a delinquent mob of idiots forced members of Congress to go into lockdown. Facts.

Jerzy Brick

They were definitely feeding off the wrong kind of energy, no question about it. In my view, the National Guard should have been installed, in-place, not on "Stand-By" and 2.5 hours too late the following the event. But Bean's right, they got what was coming for them. No question about it.

Duke Nukem

Don't forget gas prices. Which to use an Obama quote will "necessarily skyrocket" when talking about electricity costs.

Larry Lyons

Dumbocrats? You're not interesting in communicating, just playing the part of an online warrior fighting for your ideology.

Fact is taxes on these sorts of goods reduces use and result in alternatives being available very quickly. How many economic and behavior studies do you want me to cite for that. And as Neil Degrasse Tyson said,

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.

― Neil deGrasse Tyson


Different taxes have different purposes. Gas tax helps pay for roads maintenance and improvements and public transportation; property tax helps fund public safety, education, planning, zoning, etc.

Some taxes are meant to deter harmful behavior in individuals that ends up costing society; and fund programs meant to mitigate that harm - when the behavior is curbed, the revenue is decreased, but so is the need for mitigation.

Virginia is not going to become California and it's not going to become Venezuela either. It's not a terrible hardship or an unfair burden and certainly not worth complaining about.

Wake Up & Smell The Coffee!

Sadly, there wasn’t enough people who knew that all of this would happen. Hard times a comin’ to the People’s Republic of PWC.

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