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What to Know About Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee, Law Effective in CT Aug. 1, 2019

Report by Paula Antolini, July 30, 2019, 11:58AM EDT

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Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee – Effective August 1, 2019

Effective August 1, 2019 (cite: Public Act 19-117, § 355), retailers making sales in Connecticut of tangible personal property to the public are required to collect a $0.10 fee per single-use plastic checkout bag.

The store must indicate the number of single-use plastic checkout bags provided, and the total amount of the fee charged on any transaction receipt provided to a customer.

“Single-use checkout bag” means a plastic bag with a thickness of less than four mils that is provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale. “Single-use checkout bag” does not include: (A) a paper bag; (B) a reusable plastic bag (four mils or thicker); (C) a bag provided prior to checkout that is used only to contain meat, seafood, loose produce or other unwrapped food items; (D) a newspaper bag; or (E) a laundry or dry cleaning bag.

“Store” means any retailer, as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-407, that maintains a retail store within the state and sells tangible personal property directly to the public.

Any single-use plastic bag fees collected by a store are excluded from gross receipts for purposes of sales and use taxes. Each store must report all single-use checkout bag fees it collects to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) with its sales tax return.

Municipalities are permitted to enact or enforce an ordinance concerning single-use checkout bags made of plastic, provided such ordinance is as restrictive or more restrictive as the provisions of Public Act 19-117, § 355. Municipalities are also permitted to enact or enforce an ordinance concerning single-use checkout bags made of paper, including, but not limited to, enabling each store to charge a fee for any such bag distributed to a customer. Any such municipal fees are subject to sales and use taxes.

The provisions of Public Act 19-117, § 355 are effective August 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021, after which date, single-use plastic checkout bags are scheduled to be banned.

DRS has compiled a list of questions it has received concerning implementation of the single-use bag fee, and has issued an Office of the Commissioner Guidance Regarding the Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee. OR VIEW BELOW:

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OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER GUIDANCE
Regarding the Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee

This publication describes the new plastic bag fee that was enacted by Public Acts 2019, No. 19-117 § 355, which goes into effect on August 1, 2019. The Department of Revenue Services (DRS) will update this guidance as it receives additional questions.

Question 1: What is the “Plastic Bag Fee”?
Answer: The Plastic Bag Fee is a statewide fee of $0.10 per “single-use checkout bag” that must be collected by retailers making sales in Connecticut of tangible personal property to the public.

Question 2: Who is required to collect the Plastic Bag Fee?
Answer: All “stores” are required to collect the Plastic Bag Fee. The new law defines a “store” as any retailer who is registered for Connecticut sales tax that sells goods directly to the public and maintains a retail location in Connecticut that provides plastic bags to its customers.

Question 3: When must stores start collecting the Plastic Bag Fee?
Answer: Stores must start collecting the Plastic Bag Fee on August 1, 2019.

Question 4: What is a “single-use checkout bag”?
Answer: A “single-use checkout bag” means a plastic bag with a thickness of less than four mils that is provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale.

Question 5: What is not considered to be a “single-use checkout bag”?
Answer: A “single-use checkout bag” does not include:
 Paper bags;
 Reusable (four mils or thicker) plastic bags;
 Thin plastic bags on a continuous, perforated roll that are used to contain meat,
seafood, loose produce or other unwrapped food items;
 Newspaper bags; or
 Laundry or dry cleaning bags.

Question 6: What if stores already charge a fee for their bags?
Answer: If a store charges its own fee for a plastic bag, the store’s fee would have to be in addition to the state Plastic Bag Fee. Any store charges for a bag are subject to sales tax.

Question 7: What if a store uses donated plastic bags?
Answer: The imposition of the Plastic Bag Fee is based on the provision of a plastic bag to a customer, not on a store’s purchase of plastic bags. As a result, even the use of donated bags would be subject to the Plastic Bag Fee if the donated bags are provided to customers as part of a sales transaction.

Question 8: Are plastic bags provided by restaurants for take-out meals or to contain leftover meals being taken with customers considered single-use plastic checkout bags?
Answer: Yes. Restaurants must collect the Plastic Bag Fee on each single-use plastic checkout bag that is provided to customers to take meals off the premises.

Question 9: What if a store uses plastic bags for reasons other than sales transactions?
Answer: The Plastic Bag Fee does not need to be collected if there is no sale to a customer. As a result, plastic bags used by a store for other purposes, such as providing promotional materials or offering free items unrelated to a sales transaction, are not subject to the Plastic Bag Fee.

Question 10: What must a store include on the transaction receipts it provides to customers?
Answer: The store must indicate the number of single-use plastic checkout bags provided and the total amount of the fee charged on any transaction receipt provided to a customer.

Question 11: Is the Plastic Bag Fee included in gross receipts for purposes of the sales tax?
Answer: No. Sales tax is not imposed on the single-use plastic checkout bag fee. However, any municipal charges for bags are subject to sales tax. See Question 13, below.

Question 12: How does a store report the single-use plastic checkout bag fees it collected?
Answer: Each store must report all Plastic Bag Fees it collects to DRS with its sales tax return under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-414, and remit such fees at the same time and in the same form and manner required under that section.

Question 13: May municipalities pass their own ordinances regarding checkout bags?
Answer: Yes. Municipalities may enact or enforce an ordinance concerning single-use plastic checkout bags, provided the ordinance is as restrictive or more restrictive as the state legislation. In addition, municipalities may enact or enforce an ordinance concerning paper checkout bags, including, but not limited to, enabling each store to charge a fee for any such bag distributed to a customer. Any municipal charges for a bag are subject to sales tax. If a municipality were to charge its own plastic bag fee, it would be in addition to the state plastic bag fee.

Question 14: Is there a ban on plastic bags?
Answer: As of July 1, 2021, single-use plastic checkout bags are scheduled to be banned in the State of Connecticut. Municipalities may enact bans of plastic bags prior to that date.

Question 15: Are mobile vendors required to collect the Plastic Bag Fee? (Question added on 7/25/19)
Answer: Yes. Mobile vendors, such as food trucks, are considered “stores” that must collect the Plastic Bag Fee.

Question 16: If customers bring their own plastic bags to a store, should the store collect the Plastic Bag Fee on those bags? (Question added on 7/25/2019)
Answer: No. The Plastic Bag Fee is only imposed on plastic bags provided by a store, so no Plastic Bag Fee should be charged on any bags that customers bring to the store.

Question 17: Must the Plastic Bag Fee be charged to customers who make purchases with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits? (Question added on 7/25/2019)
Answer: Yes, the Plastic Bag Fee must be charged for all customers. There is no exemption provided for customers who make purchases with SNAP or WIC benefits.

Question 18: Must the Plastic Bag Fee be charged on biodegradable or compostable plastic bags? (Question added on 7/25/2019)
Answer: The Plastic Bag Fee must be charged for all plastic bags that have a thickness of less than four mils. There is no exemption provided for biodegradable or compostable plastic bags.

Additional Questions Regarding the Single-Use Plastic Bag Fee: Send an email to the DRS Legal Division at legal.division@po.state.ct.us

For Further Information Regarding Registration, Filing or Collection:

Call DRS during business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday: 800-382-9463 (Connecticut calls outside the Greater Hartford calling area only); or 860-297-5962 (from anywhere).

TTY, TDD, and Text Telephone users only may transmit inquiries anytime by calling 860-297-4911.

For Forms and Publications: Visit the DRS website at portal.ct.gov/DRS

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