A new five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags went into effect at certain retailers across Fairfax County on Jan. 1, 2022. Here are five things you need to know about this new tax.
1. Only Three Types of Retailers are Affected
The tax is only on disposable plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores. Some bigger box stores, like Walmart, are also included.
2. The Tax Is Completely Avoidable
If you bring your own reusable shopping bag and use it at the register, you can avoid paying this tax.
3. The Purpose of the Tax Is to Curb Plastic Pollution
Unlike some other taxes, this tax does not exist for the purpose of collecting revenue. The entire goal of the tax is to help encourage change behavior and to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags.
4. Any Revenue Collected Will Be Used for Specific Purposes
The Virginia Department of Taxation will administer and collect the tax. Any revenue collected will be provided to Fairfax County periodically and will be used to help stand up environmental programs and services to curb litter and pollution, and to provide reusable bags to those eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits.
5. Arlington and Alexandria Also Have a Plastic Bag Tax
The region is moving collectively to address plastic pollution. Both Arlington and Alexandria have implemented a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags as of Jan. 1, 2022.
For questions about administration or enforcement, please contact Virginia Tax at 804-367-8031.