Disposable Plastic Bag Tax Begins in Roanoke Starting January 1, 2022

Only certain types of businesses and bags are affected

Starting on January 1, 2022, grocery stores, drugstores, and convenience stores located in the cities of Roanoke, Alexandria or Fredericksburg, and the counties of Fairfax or Arlington, will be required to collect a new 5-cent tax for each disposable plastic bag they provide to their customers for their purchases.

In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing localities to adopt the tax, which will help fund environmental initiatives in those localities.

“For the retailers affected by this new tax, it may feel like a big change,” said Tax Commissioner Craig M. Burns. “As a result, we have been working hard to make the new process as straightforward as possible for these businesses.”

Retailers affected by the new tax will not need to charge the tax on other types of plastic bags, such as:

  • Durable plastic bags, with handles, that are specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and that are at least 4 mils thick;
  • Plastic bags that are solely used to wrap, contain, or package ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, produce, unwrapped bulk food items, or perishable food items in order to avoid damage or contamination;
  • Plastic bags used to carry dry cleaning or prescription drugs; or
  • Multiple plastic bags sold in packages and intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or leaf removal bags.

Affected businesses can report the tax collected on their sales and use tax returns. If they have questions about the tax, they can find official guidelines as well as Tax Bulletin 11-9 on the Virginia Tax website. Businesses can also contact the Virginia Tax Business Customer Service hotline at 804.367.8037.

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