Q. I find it ridiculous, after spending over a hundred dollars at the grocery store; the retailer adds insult to injury and charges five cents per bag. To top it off, I was charged a tax on the bag. Must they charge a fee and are they taxable? How much and where does it go?
— Irene, Toronto
A. You, me and all Toronto’s city dwellers are adjusting to the new plastic bag bylaw introduced by Mayor David Miller.
As of June 1, all retailers must charge a minimum of five cents per plastic bag. The City of Toronto’s objective is to divert 70 per cent of waste from landfill, reduce volume of plastic bags and encourage reusable bags. Retailers are not allowed to absorb the charge.
The “charge” is subject to GST and PST (provided taxable items, including the bag, exceed 21 cents). However, what is 13 per cent of five cents? Not much of a tax grab for federal or provincial government. We won’t go broke because of the tax on plastic bags.
Retailers do not remit the five cents to the City of Toronto but keep it as profit, provided they are fortunate enough to have a profit in these economic times. The city, however, encourages the retailers to give back to the community. Maybe, the city in conjunction with an environmental group should have established a special fund for environmental initiatives.
– Henry Choo Chong, CGA, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 416-485-5225.