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Bag tax would be a drag on Baltimore businesses

What a shame you have failed to mention the considerable opposition to the proposed tax on plastic bags ("Fee on plastic bags distributed in Baltimore wins committee approval," Nov. 5).

At the Nov. 5 City Council hearing, a number of good reasons were presented for rejecting a 5-cent charge on plastic bags.

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If it becomes law next April, every retailer who provides plastic bags — and, no doubt, eventually paper bags as well — will be required create a separate, dedicated accounting system to comply with the statute.

Every transaction involving plastic bags must regularly be submitted to the city by the 25th of each month. And heaven help any retailer who falls behind; a fine of up to $500 could result.

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Opening a business in Baltimore is tough, and it shouldn't be made even tougher than it already is. Local businesses face enormous competition from online vendors. Internet companies rarely pay sales taxes, and they compete directly with local brick-and-mortar establishments.

If the plastic bag tax is signed into law, it will add another layer of bureaucracy to Baltimore City's government. The city finance department will have to create a new plastic bag sector with squads of spotters and enforcers.

But if Baltimore residents and businesses don't object to any of this, we'll have a new tax on the books very soon.

Rosalind Heid, Baltimore

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