On September 14, 2021, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance enacting a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags provided by retailers in grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores within its borders. The tax will take effect on January 1, 2022, and will be administered and enforced by the state in the same manner as the Retail Sales and Use Tax.
The purpose of the tax is to curb our collective use of disposable plastic bags, to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our local waterways and the damage it causes. Plastic pollution is a serious problem for ecological and health reasons. Plastics do not biodegrade like wood or other natural materials. Instead, plastic materials photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces but never fully disappearing. Pieces of plastic both large and very, very small can wreak havoc on our natural resources and can find their way into our food and water.
Revenue from this tax will be collected by the Virginia Department of Taxation and will be disbursed to Fairfax County monthly. Fairfax County’s ordinance tracks both enabling legislation passed in the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly , as well as guidelines adopted by the state Tax Commissioner, which were finalized on September 1, 2021. The legislation requires that the plastic bag tax be collected by the retailer at time of purchase, with revenue to be allocated toward:
- Environmental cleanup programs
- Pollution and litter mitigation programs
- Educational programs on environmental waste reduction
- Provision of reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits
Affected retailers will be able to retain a two-cent discount in the first year of implementation. Starting January 1, 2023, this discount will decrease to one cent.
More information about the plastic bag tax is included on the FAQ page linked below. For any additional questions, please email us.