Will placing a 5-cent tax on plastic bags clean up the environment? That's what legislators in Washington, D.C. and Maryland are hoping. Their idea: To tax paper and plastic carryout bags to give consumers an incentive to bring their own reusable bags. I've kind of always thought that a 5- to 10-cent tax is meaningless for consumers. Tax them $1, and then they'll start to reconsider that bag.