Brownsville agrees to repeal ‘illegal sales tax’ on plastic bags

By David Yates | May 17, 2017

AUSTIN - Attorney General Ken Paxton recently announced the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the city of Brownsville after it formally repealed its “illegal sales tax” on plastic bags.

Last year, Brownsville began charging residents a $1 “environmental fee” for buying plastic bags at businesses or grocery stores, which violated the Texas Tax Code and Health and Safety Code, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Texas Health and Safety Code states that a local government or other political subdivision may not adopt an ordinance, rule or regulation to assess a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package.

“I’m pleased that the city of Brownsville agreed to stop taxing its citizens through an unlawful bag fee,” Paxton said. “Cities and municipalities in Texas are obligated to follow the rule of law. And in this case, a law passed by the legislature clearly prohibits a sales tax on bags.”

According to a published report, shoppers in the city of Brownsville have been paying nearly $71,000 per month in illegal plastic bag fees since the “environmental fee” was imposed.

Groups who came to the city’s defense argued bag laws help keep livestock safe and are ultimately in the best interest of the environment.

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