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Montgomery County Legislators To Discuss Limits On Five-Cent Bag Tax

Montgomery County imposed the five-cent bag tax in 2012, but is now debating scaling it back.
Trisha Weir: http://www.flickr.com/photos/novembering/2681270515/
Montgomery County imposed the five-cent bag tax in 2012, but is now debating scaling it back.

The Montgomery County Council will hold a hearing this evening on a bill that would limit the scope of the county's five-cent tax on plastic and paper bags.

The county implemented a the tax on disposable plastic bags, much like D.C.'s, at the start of 2012. It included bags not just at grocery stores, but also at retail outlets that didn't sell food.

But a bill introduced by Council members Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen and Craig Rice would limit the tax to stores where the sale of food makes up more than two percent of gross sales by dollar value. As a consequence, many retail stores would be exempted from the tax, as would take-out restaurants.

According to a staff report, the change could affect a majority of the county's retailers: of 1,100 retailers that have paid the tax since it went into effect in 2012, only 120 are considered food stores. Still, those food stores are responsible for 62 percent of revenue from the tax. The report states that the county could expect a 38 percent decrease in expected revenue from the change, from $1.8 million $1.1 million in 2014.

In D.C., any store that sells food—whether a supermarket or a department store—is required to charge five cents per bag given to customers.

The hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Rockville.

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