Officials clarify orange trash bags are not taxed

Oct 31, 2022

Town officials are reminding residents that there is no sales tax when purchasing orange Pay As You Throw trash bags.

The alert comes after a number of residents took to social media earlier in the month to say that they were charged an additional 49 cents to purchase the polarizing bags at Stop & Shop. 

No such tax exists on the bags, Director of Public Works Tim Barber noted during the Select Board’s Oct. 31 meeting.

“We keep the bags at the same price all the time,” he said.

PAYT programs — in which participants pay to dispose of their own garbage — can help decrease the amount of waste going to landfills. Bags are sold in rolls of five bags in either 33-gallon size for $10 or 14-gallon size for $5. 

According to Barber, this error was caused by a companywide software glitch which made items such as the bags inadvertently taxed at Stop & Shop stores.

This issue has since been resolved.

It is unknown how many residents were affected by the glitch. Those who did pay that additional fee can get a refund by going to the store with a receipt or shopper discount card.

No other stores carrying the bags have reported such errors, Barber said.

Should a vendor make that mistake, officials say residents should alert the store to the fact there is no tax and notify town offices such as the DPW or Select Board, not social media.

“The quicker we can get a handle on it, the better it is,” board member Shawn McDonald said.

Select Board members also reminded residents to be vigilant and carefully read their receipts following any purchases.

“A government entity would not charge 49 cents additional for a bag,” he said. “Government likes to work in whole dollars, not pennies.”