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Bag Tax FAQs

January 1, 2010

Q. When do I have to start charging $.05 for bags?

A. You should be charging for bags NOW…and starting  January 1, 2010. 

Q. Do I have to charge for all carry out bags?

A. If you have a restaurant business license (e.g. not a deli or grocery license) and you provide seating you are exempt from charging for paper bags ONLY.  You must charge for any other type of disposable carry out bag, other than a Wine Doggie Bag.

Q. With all the talk about paper and plastic, what about biodegradable and compostable bags that are neither paper nor plastic?
A. Under the definitions of the law “disposable carry out bags” are defined as “bags of ANY material,  COMMONLY paper or plastic (emphasis added).” So, if it’s disposable it’s covered by the law regardless of  composition, unless you have a restaurant business license, and the bag is paper.

Q. I’ve got cases of logoed bags that I ordered before the law passed, do I have to toss them all?

A. No. On December 15th the DC City Council passed emergency legislation granting an extension until April 1, 2010 for businesses to use up non-compliant stock. You still must charge the $.05, but may use your existing inventory.  After April 1st all bags must be compliant (click here to read the law; Section 3 tells you about what makes a bag compliant).

Q. Once I collect the $.05 what happens next?
A. The DC Office of Tax and Revenue has released guidelines on reporting the “Bag Tax”. Click here for the document and look under Filing Requirements on page 2 for more information.

Q. Is there anyone at the DC Department of the Environment I can talk to if I have more questions?
A. Yes, Mary Lynn Wilhere, Business Outreach Coordinator, is the point person at the Department of the Environment for all your questions about this new law. 

Ms. Wilhere’s contact info is:
(202) 535-1939 Direct Phone
marylynn.wilhere@dc.govThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

You can also go to the Department of the Environment website and click on the “Skip the Bag, Save the River” bag icon for additional information.
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Washington DC