GSA has confirmed with DC and Montgomery County, MD that the bag tax does not apply to federal government customers because the county/local government has no power to tax the federal government in the absence of a state or federal law authorizing the county/local government to do so. 


Purchase cardholders are not required to fill out any particular form to seek the tax exemption; however, the cardholder must be able prove to the retailer’s satisfaction that the purchase is being made for the government (NIH) and not for the individual.  The government purchase card does have “US Government/Tax exempt”  imprinted on the card so this should be sufficient for the retailer.  If the vendor refuses and charges a tax, the cardholder can pay the tax but MUST document the file what occurred and should choose a different vendor in the future.   


In keeping with NIH’s sustainability practices, however, cardholders are encouraged to bring reusable bags when possible and reduce the use of disposable bags when making purchases.


If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact the Purchase Card Help Desk at (301) 435-6606 or send an email to Help, CreditCard or


                Thank you.