Modified: April 13, 2019 1:27pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today issued the following statement to explain the difference between a tax and a fee, an important distinction that is consistently misrepresented by opponents to the New York State plan to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags while eliminating the use of ubiquitous single-use plastic bags. The proposal would impose a fee, or purchase price, of five cents per bag on consumers who opt to use a paper bag for their purchases. This is similar to what already happens at area grocers such as Aldi. Consumers who bring their own bags, or don’t use a bag, would be completely unaffected by the plan.
“The issue here, aside from the generations-long pollution that plastic proliferation causes, is simply the difference between a tax and a fee. It’s very easy to understand, but is also deliberately and continually misrepresented by those seeking to confuse the public on the plastic bag issue,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Simply put, a tax is imposed equally on everyone, regardless of whether an individual uses a service or not. A fee is applied only to those who use a particular service. In this case, individuals who want to use a paper bag would be charged a fee of five cents for that bag. People who use reusable bags, or no bag at all, are not charged anything. For most people it is easy to see the difference, and also easy to understand why this plan will stimulate the use of reusable bags.”
Poloncarz continued, “Opponents of the plan and others who love plastic pollution fall back on the ‘it’s a new tax’ myth to scare people and stall efforts to leave a cleaner environment for the next generation. There is no excuse for inaction as plastic pollution invades our environment more and more each day, and the plan to encourage reusable bag usage makes complete sense. Shoppers will have a choice to bring their own bags or pay a nickel for a paper bag, such as happens now at Aldi and other grocers, and we will drastically decrease the flood of plastic bags fouling our parks and roadsides, clogging our wastewater systems and fluttering in our trees. There’s no ‘new tax’, just new thinking that will lead to a cleaner Western New York.”
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