The Maryland Public Policy Institute
We’ve heard a lot about taxes this legislative session. Governor O’Malley has suggested hiking the gas tax and cigar tax, imposing an app tax, and raising income taxes on people making over $100,000. If that wasn’t enough, there may be one more tax coming from our legislators – a bag tax.
Governor O’Malley didn’t propose this new tax; the idea is coming from various liberal politicians, including the Prince George’s County Council. We’ve written a few blog posts about this issue before, laying out a variety of reasons why this is flawed public policy. To sum up these posts: the environmental benefits from a bag tax are overstated and the economic impacts are significant.
Ron Busby of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce picks up these themes in a recent blog post he wrote on the Chamber’s blog. As he says, the bag tax would:
Place a regressive tax on county residents that adds burden to families in a down economy – At a time when the cost of transportation, food and housing continues to rise, residents are thinking about every penny. If the tax is passed, people will have to include the cost of carry-home bags into their weekly grocery budget instead of being able to maximize their dollars on the items that matter most.
Busby also points to some environmental impacts, saying the bag tax would:
Increase waste and reduce recycling programs – Without free plastic bags, like those currently provided by grocers and retailers, residents will need to find alternatives, including non-recyclable reusable bags made in China or thicker plastic bags to line trash bins. Both options have a larger environmental footprint and jeopardize the growing recycling industry in the U.S. that is creating new jobs.
Current law in Maryland allows counties to impose a bag tax. Any county that does so is acting foolishly, in my view. But at least the decision is made by local governments that are (theoretically) closer to the people. There is no need to impose this tax statewide.
This bag tax would be a bad idea any time, but it’s especially bad now. Governor O’Malley is proposing a variety of other regressive taxes, and this would be one more to add to that long list. The governor’s tax plans have been encountering surprisingly stiff opposition, but the proposal for a bag tax isn’t getting much attention. Given the short time frame that budget decisions usually happen, it’s quite possible that this type of tax could be slipped into the budget legislation at the last minute.
For all those in Annapolis who are working to thwart the high tax agenda that often runs rampant there, you now have yet another tax proposal to fight.
I did the math; for my weekly shopping that's an added tax of $150!! That doesn't include my family's purchases. There are too many taxes being piled on!
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