Jul. 25, 2011
BOSTON — Bay State shoppers could be getting a break next month. A panel of state lawmakers on Monday advanced a bill that would establish a sales-tax holiday in August.
The measure would waive the state’s 6.25% sales tax the weekend of August 13th and 14th, with savings applying to most items under $2,500.
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, says a sales tax holiday would be a much-needed boost for retailers.
“The sales tax holiday represents one of the biggest weekends of the entire year for local retailers," Hurst said. "It’s like a December weekend, it’s like during the holiday season. And without it, frankly, it makes for a very tough summer.”
He added it would provide relief for working families making back-to-school purchases.
But Judy Meredith from the group ONE Massachusetts testified against the measure, saying it would cost the state millions in a fourth straight year of budget cuts.
“It takes 20 million dollars out of our depleted revenue stream, that has already forced cuts – horrible cuts – from public education and higher education to children’s clothing allowance,” Meredith said.
Opponents also assert a tax-free weekend would have only a modest stimulating effect on the economy, since many purchases would have been made at a different time of the year anyway.
The measure is expected to pass despite these concerns. It has the backing of Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Robert Deleo. They say the commonwealth can afford the break, since state tax collections for the last fiscal year are up about $2 billion over the year before.
If approved, this will be the seventh sales tax holiday in the last eight years.
The measure now heads to the House.