There will be a sales tax holiday in Massachusetts this summer. State lawmakers have agreed to designate the August 14-15 weekend as this year’s tax-free weekend. Massachusetts has waived the 6.25% sales tax on most retail items that cost less than $ 2,500 for most of the past few years.
In 2018, lawmakers agreed to make the Sales Tax Free Weekend a reality as part of a legislative deal that will gradually set the Commonwealth’s minimum wage at $ 15 an hour and create a family and medical leave program. The sales tax exemption was a concession to business leaders who argued that a higher minimum wage and the holiday program would place an unfair burden on businesses.
The sales tax exemption costs the Commonwealth millions of dollars in tax revenue each year, but it pushes consumers into retail establishments at a time of year when physical businesses are struggling the most. It has actually become the unofficial start of back to school and Christmas shopping for many. Traders noted a marked and steady increase in sales every week after the duty free weekend.
Truth be told, consumers could probably do a lot better without the sales tax exemption. Sure, they save 6.25%, but would probably save at least 10% on the same merchandise without the holidays. I guess the idea of depriving the government of its taxpayers’ money appeals to many. So be it. Everything that works.
Massachusetts shoppers should also remember that local moms and pops are lowering sales tax during the sales tax holiday weekend, and they could definitely benefit from your patronage. Box stores are wonderful, but they don’t offer the personalized service and unique gift items many local merchants offer.
This weekend sales tax free, shop often, but don’t forget to shop local too. It would mean a lot to your local community.
Barry Richard is the host of the Barry Richard Show at 1420 WBSM New Bedford. It can be heard on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.