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MoCo Bag Tax Impact


jayandstacey
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Got hit with this over the weekend for the first time in a restaurant. Because it was a counter service place (kabobs), it put us in the weird position of having to come up with five cents (or was it ten?) for the bag.

I'm nuetral on the tax, even leaning toward it a bit. Like bottle return fees, if it spurs a certain behavior, then maybe it is a good thing. It just made for a wierd comversation at the end of a meal.

Are there any creative ways to deal with this to avoid a pocket rummage? Of course, at a table service place any doggie bags are generally determined before the bill is calculated. But what about counter places?

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Got hit with this over the weekend for the first time in a restaurant. Because it was a counter service place (kabobs), it put us in the weird position of having to come up with five cents (or was it ten?) for the bag.

I'm nuetral on the tax, even leaning toward it a bit. Like bottle return fees, if it spurs a certain behavior, then maybe it is a good thing. It just made for a wierd comversation at the end of a meal.

Are there any creative ways to deal with this to avoid a pocket rummage? Of course, at a table service place any doggie bags are generally determined before the bill is calculated. But what about counter places?

I'm presuming the meal was paid for with a debit or credit card, since five cents seems like something that would be available if anyone had any cash on them at all. All I can think of would be to go back to the counter and order something else with the debit or credit card and pay for a bag with that money. Add the leftovers to that bag. (Or buy two bags if need be.) If you know in advance that you will probably be needing a bag, pay the 5 cents upfront with the original order.

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Doggy bags are supposed to be exempt in Maryland.

Yes, but only if they are paper, at least in MoCo. This place provided plastic.

I'm presuming the meal was paid for with a debit or credit card, since five cents seems like something that would be available if anyone had any cash on them at all. All I can think of would be to go back to the counter and order something else with the debit or credit card and pay for a bag with that money. Add the leftovers to that bag. (Or buy two bags if need be.) If you know in advance that you will probably be needing a bag, pay the 5 cents upfront with the original order.

Exactly. We paid by card, got our food, ate then wanted a doggie bag. And the retailer can't just 'spot you' one, as the five cents is a tax, not a purchase price. Of course, it isn't a big deal, but it was odd that my wife was searching around for a nickel in her purse.

So what is the protocol here? I see the potential for...I dunno...lots of weirdness here and none of it the restaurant's fault. I suppose we could:

1. Ask if the doggie bags will have a tax and pre-pay it (as suggested)

2. carry around a nickel or two, or a bag or two

3. Choose no bag, just the container(s)?

I dunno, I'm not losing sleep over it - just odd, that's all.

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I tried to forgo the extra bag when buying empanadas last week. Crumbs in my work bag, not cool. I guess I will need to walk around with some plastic bags.

Or ask them to wrap your to-go order in aluminum foil and/or plastic wrap. They must have those items in the back.

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Personally I am opposed to the tax for a number of reasons. However, as a practical matter it has not been that big of a deal. It creates some more administrative for the business owner but not too much. C'mon folks, it's only a nickel.

On a side note, I talked to someone who works at the Apple store where purchases can easily top $1,000. He said that people still complain about the extra 5 cents.

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Haven't had to use them for takeout/leftovers yet (I just took the food containers directly to the car), but I do have several of the reusable bags that are lined, so would work for food that could potentially spill. And they're all washable.

I actually remembered to bring my reusable cloth bags to Staples and Petco last week.

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All I will say is that since DC instituted its bag tax, there are far fewer plastic bags stuck in trees.

My biggest complaint since the tax was instituted was that Ace Beverage's old bags had to be replaced. Their old bags were great - I used them over and over, finally as garbage bags.

The new ones don't survive the trip home without going to pieces.

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Personally I am opposed to the tax for a number of reasons. However, as a practical matter it has not been that big of a deal. It creates some more administrative for the business owner but not too much. C'mon folks, it's only a nickel.

But if you don't have a nickel...and only have a credit card...what happens in the restaurant is that the conversation turns to "C'mon folks, it's only a bag." and that's where it could get sticky.

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But if you don't have a nickel...and only have a credit card...what happens in the restaurant is that the conversation turns to "C'mon folks, it's only a bag." and that's where it could get sticky.

It's a tax, not a charge.

If you buy something that's exactly $1, and you have a dollar bill in your pocket, do you expect the retailer to eat the $0.06 (in Maryland) so you can have your item?

Bags cost $0.00. The tax on the bag is $0.05.

Do you really walk around without any cash at all? I almost never spend cash - I use credit cards for everything. But if I don't have a few 20s in my wallet, I'm hitting the bank before I go anywhere.

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It's a tax, not a charge.

If you buy something that's exactly $1, and you have a dollar bill in your pocket, do you expect the retailer to eat the $0.06 (in Maryland) so you can have your item?

Bags cost $0.00. The tax on the bag is $0.05.

Do you really walk around without any cash at all? I almost never spend cash - I use credit cards for everything. But if I don't have a few 20s in my wallet, I'm hitting the bank before I go anywhere.

Understood that its a tax. That's the point I made above - that the establishment isn't at fault here and they'd get in trouble to not charge it. I don't expect them to spot me the tax under any circumstance. I was more making the point that it can make for an odd situation, and some people won't understand that the 5 cents insn't optional.

And no, I don't carry cash, pretty much ever.

As a kid, I got to help my father pick some of the colors of the keys as he helped design one of the first ATMs in Washington. It was a clunky machine that sat on a table and had a wood surround - long story, but the point is that I've never really been a cash person as an adult. It has never been much of an issue - but every blue moon there's an oddity like this.

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I don't think it is the nickel that makes the issue. It is stores that are not used to it and charging your order and then saying "Oh, did you need a bag, that will be five cents". The grocery stores are adding them in before totalling your order and once that becomes commonplace it will be easier than to hunt up a nickel or dime to pay a tax because we are not used to it and some clerk didn't think to add it in or ask before totalling out the order. CVS was so far the one store to annoy me with the nickel so far and it was all about sloppy counter service that annoyed me.

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I don't think it is the nickel that makes the issue. It is stores that are not used to it and charging your order and then saying "Oh, did you need a bag, that will be five cents". The grocery stores are adding them in before totalling your order and once that becomes commonplace it will be easier than to hunt up a nickel or dime to pay a tax because we are not used to it and some clerk didn't think to add it in or ask before totalling out the order. CVS was so far the one store to annoy me with the nickel so far and it was all about sloppy counter service that annoyed me.

True - but the concern here is at counter service restaurants, where the food transaction is already complete...before the food was eaten...then a plastic bag enters the picture and another transaction must happen after the food is eaten.

The best solution is probably just that such restaurants switch to paper bags/boxes.

Another solution is that 5 cents is built into the sale and a bag is provided. If the meal is finished and the bag returned to the counter, a nickel is given back (this is a little weird too, but you get it. It has the odd feature of promulgating more plastic bags).

I'm not against the tax or the bags or any of that, rather just curious how the "round peg" of this tax can fit into the "square hole" of a typical coutner service establishment procedure.

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True - but the concern here is at counter service restaurants, where the food transaction is already complete...before the food was eaten...then a plastic bag enters the picture and another transaction must happen after the food is eaten.

The best solution is probably just that such restaurants switch to paper bags/boxes.

Another solution is that 5 cents is built into the sale and a bag is provided. If the meal is finished and the bag returned to the counter, a nickel is given back (this is a little weird too, but you get it. It has the odd feature of promulgating more plastic bags).

I'm not against the tax or the bags or any of that, rather just curious how the "round peg" of this tax can fit into the "square hole" of a typical coutner service establishment procedure.

The last time I went to the Greek Deli on 19th Street, they didn't ask if I needed a bag. It was simply put in a bag and the 5 cents included in the total. I agree that this is a simpler way to do it but I can picture some folks getting ugly about it.

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The last time I went to the Greek Deli on 19th Street, they didn't ask if I needed a bag. It was simply put in a bag and the 5 cents included in the total. I agree that this is a simpler way to do it but I can picture some folks getting ugly about it.

I'd get hugely ugly with that. We paid for bags on New Year's Day because we were coming back from vacation had used all of the re-usable bags on kid stuff. Since then we've brought our own or I've carried the stuff out. (I'm bad about bringing the bags in from the car...) I also have a copy of he regulation the county sent out as a pdf on my phone if need be.
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The last time I went to the Greek Deli on 19th Street, they didn't ask if I needed a bag. It was simply put in a bag and the 5 cents included in the total. I agree that this is a simpler way to do it but I can picture some folks getting ugly about it.

In fairness, I'd be Ok with that as I will be taking the food out regardless. I guess that ideally they'd ask if you brought your own bag first, before adding the tax (that is the purpose, right?)

In my scenario, the entire transaction was as though at a deli (pay, then get your food), but then we sat down and ate there. Now, most people in the place we ate (Moby Dick Kabobs) will finish their meal and just leave, so it probably wouldn't make sense for Moby Dick to charge for a bag up front - but as we ordered a family platter we had some left over and needed a bag. So, no cash but needed five cents.

It didn't get ugly at all, it was more funny than anything. But it was just weird - and I could see how for some it be misconstrued or turned ugly.

Funny thing is that carrying no cash will very occasionally put me in weird spots. I ate in a small lunch place in Gettysburg that only took cash - we ate, then I went across the street to get cash from an ATM while the kids waited back at the restaurant. No cash available. Turns out that a hacker in Romania had taken about $6K from my account, and while there was still money in the account, I'd hit my withdrawl limit for the day. So I had to talk my way out of the restaurant without paying, on a promise I would mail them payment. I did - but what an odd situation.

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I'd get hugely ugly with that. We paid for bags on New Year's Day because we were coming back from vacation had used all of the re-usable bags on kid stuff. Since then we've brought our own or I've carried the stuff out. (I'm bad about bringing the bags in from the car...) I also have a copy of he regulation the county sent out as a pdf on my phone if need be.

Well, yes, the whole idea is to change behavior. If you ask them when you order not to put it in a bag they won't, but you do have to be pro-active about it. I don't think Kosta is the type of guy to slow down his operation to ask everybody whether they want a bag :) . Unless you preempt them you'll get one.

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