8 Virginia counties and cities set 5-cent plastic bag taxes

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Imagine if the people of Richmond had to pay 5 cents for every plastic bag they use to carry groceries from the store. Eight localities in Virginia have already passed ordinances to implement a plastic bag tax for residents. Could Richmond be next?

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly began allowing counties and cities to establish a 5-cent tax on plastic bags, much to the delight of many environmental activists.

According to Virginia Tax, local businesses, such as grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies, would collect the 5-cent fee at checkout for each plastic bag used by a customer. Money raised from this tax would go to counties and cities to support environmental clean-up projects, waste and pollution mitigation efforts, and environmental education initiatives, as well as to provide reusable bags to recipients of government benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

In Loudoun County, the plastic bag tax will begin July 1. Albemarle will soon follow, with fees due to apply on January 1, 2023, according to a county press release May 4.

The following Virginia localities already have the plastic bag tax in effect:

  • City of Alexandria
  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • Church of the Falls City
  • City of Fredericksburg
  • Town of Roanoke

According to Virginia Tax, durable plastic bags made with handles and designed to be used multiple times will not be subject to the tax. Plastic bags that are used to wrap or contain food and produce to prevent contamination or damage are also not subject to the 5-cent charge.

For more information on the plastic bag tax declaration procedure, go to Virginia Tax website.

Bryce K. Locke