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Ask/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at www.cumberlink.com:

Should stores be charging sales tax when I purchase my borough trash bags?

Benjamin Franklin said nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. However, sales taxes are a bit more ambiguous when applied to Carlisle trash bags.

Rather than charging a flat fee, Carlisle charges residents by the amount of trash they generate. It does this by requiring residents to purchase specially designated bags that cost $3.75 each, according to the borough’s website. People can put as much trash as they want in the bags, so long as it doesn’t exceed 40 pounds.

An observant resident contacted The Sentinel after noticing that one store charged sales tax on trash bags she purchased, but other stores did not.

According to Borough Manager Susan Armstrong, some retailers include sales tax as “a matter of internal policy required by their auditors.”

“While the borough has worked throughout the years requesting vendors discontinue this practice, retail sellers are required to collect sales tax and remit it to the state unless otherwise exempted,” Armstrong wrote in an email.

Pennsylvania charges a 6 percent sales tax on most items, but exempts food, most clothing, drugs, heating fuels and other items from the tax.

Trash bags can be purchased directly from the borough at Borough Hall at 53 W. South St. The borough does not charge sales tax, Armstrong said.

According to the borough’s website, trash bags can also be purchased at:

  • Carlisle Parks & Recreation, 415 Franklin St.
  • Carlisle Food Mart, 603 Franklin St.
  • CVS, 841 E. High St.
  • CVS, 765 S. West St.
  • Giant Food Stores, 255 S. Spring Garden St.
  • Giant Food Stores, 950 Walnut Bottom Road
  • Karns Foods, 1706 Spring Road
  • Minute Stop, 75 W. Louther St.
  • One Stop Food Mart, 271 Penrose Plaza
  • West Willow Market & Deli, 20 W. Willow St.
  • Quick Stop Deli, 601 W. Louther St.
  • Rana Food Mart II, 330 N. Hanover St.
  • Wal-Mart, 60 Noble Blvd.
  • Weis Markets, 351 E. High St.

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Daniel Walmer covers public safety for The Sentinel. You can reach him by email at dwalmer@cumberlink.com or by phone at 717-218-0021.

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