At stores in the city of Brownsville, shoppers are charged a $1 per bag “environmental fee” for plastic bags provided during checkout. Maintaining that the fee is an illegal sales tax, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a lawsuit against the city to permanently ban the fee.

Under the Texas Health & Safety Code, plastic checkout bags are considered “containers or packages.” Because state law requires local governments to manage waste from taxes already collected, the law prohibits them from assessing taxes or fees at the cash register. However, in Brownsville, citizens are being unlawfully taxed. 
According to a published report, shoppers in the city of Brownsville hand over almost $71,000 per month in illegal environmental fees.

“No local government has the authority to violate Texas law just because it feels like it,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Clearly, Brownsville is raising taxes on its citizens through this unlawful bag fee. The rule of law must be upheld, and state law is clear – bags may not be taxed.”

Since its inception through January of this year, the city of Brownsville’s $1 environmental fee taxed citizens around $3.8 million, according to the Brownsville Herald.

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