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D.C. Seeks Bag Tax Regulation Clarifications

1 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

District of Columbia officials have proposed a series of regulations clarifying how the 5-cent bag “fee” (actually a tax) operates, from the Washington Post:

The proposed regulations, which will become law following a 30-day public comment period, state the taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. will apply to bakeries, delicatessens, grocery stores, convenience stores that sell food, restaurants, street vendors that sell food, liquor stores as well as “any business that sells food items.”

The tax also will apply to stores that sell both food and non-food items, such as many pharmacies, regardless of whether a customer purchases food or another item.

But the new regulations, published in the D.C. Register, state the tax will generally not apply to bags used to package goods inside food stores.

For example, a customer cannot be charged for bags used inside a store to “package bulk items, such as fruit, nuts, grains or candy.”

Bags that package newspapers, prescription drugs, laundry or dry cleaning are also exempt, as are “paper carryout bags provided to a customer to take away food from a restaurant.”

Read the full article here.

For more on the District of Columbia tax, see the Tax Foundation report, “D.C. Charge on Plastic Bags is a Tax, Not a Fee,” (11/17/09).

For more on Seattle’s aborted bag tax, see the Tax Foundation reports, “Proposed Seattle Bag Tax Criticized,” (6/30/08) and “No Bag Tax in Seattle,” (8/19/09). For information on Ireland’s bag tax and the motivations for bag taxes generally, check out “Bootleggers, Baptists, and Ireland’s Bag Tax” (8/31/05).