Skip to content

Arlington's plastic-bag tax revenue largely stable

Government coffers got $340,000 during last fiscal year

The Arlington County government’s revenues from single-use plastic bags remains on track during fiscal 2024 to approximate the total received in fiscal 2023.

In fiscal 2023 – which ended last June – the county government received just over $340,000 for its share of bag-tax revenue, Treasurer Carla de la Pava told the GazetteLeader. So far in fiscal 2024, the county government’s share has amounted to about $182,000.

(De la Pava shared the data, but her office doesn’t collect the tax. Funds from retailers are sent directly to the state government.)

Using powers given to them by the General Assembly in 2021, the Arlington government became among the first in Virginia to impose a 5-cent-per-bag tax on single-use bags at grocery, convenience and drug stores, as well as on larger retailers that have grocery-and-drug-store operations.

(Retailers are not required to charge customers for the bags, but are required to pay the tax even if they do not. Until the end of 2023, stores were allowed to keep 2 cents from the tax on each bag; going forward, it is 1 cent.)

Arlington is one of what is still a relatively small number of jurisdictions that have imposed the tax on the public following legislation enacted during a brief window when Democrats held control of both houses of the General Assembly and the governorship.

According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, bag taxes also have been enacted in Albemarle, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the cities of Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg and Roanoke.

Local governments must use revenue from the tax for environmental and recycling efforts.