The paper bag fee sets a dangerous and illogical precedent. Paper bags from the paper aisle are taxed at the check stand, but paper carryout bags purchased at the check stand to hold your groceries are not taxable. Furthermore, the fee paid for paper carryout bags subsidizes the free paper bags provided to certain low income groups, providing a powerful argument that the fee is a tax instead. So far court rulings have stated that the paper bag fee is not a tax since the fees are retained and used by a private party. Under current court rulings, a state or local government jurisdiction can enact a statute or ordinance which requires payment of fees to a private party and then dictate how the moneys are spent by the private party and as long as no monies are remitted to the state or local jurisdiction then the scheme completely bypasses constitutional tax limitations and constitutional protection of citizens from a continual barrage of new taxes and fees.
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