Sales tax holiday on Saturday, Sunday, Aug. 15, 16 is official

Gov. Charlie Baker last week Thursday signed into law the bill suspending the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax for most purchases this Saturday and Sunday.

“This tax-free weekend is not only an opportunity to save a few dollars for consumers, but it’s also an opportunity for people to buy local and keep more business here in the Commonwealth,” Governor Baker said, citing a Retailers Association of Massachusetts report that showed the sale tax holiday boosts retail by over $100 million.

The sales tax will still apply to sales of telecommunications items, tobacco products, motor vehicles, motorboats, gasoline, electricity, meals and items priced at more than $2,500.

The tax holiday bill drew strong support from Republicans, but divided Democrats, with critics of the idea calling it a “boondoggle” and a “gimmick” and minimizing the 6.25 percent savings that consumers would receive by buying items exempt from the sales tax. Tax holiday critics dispute claims that it leads to a burst of economic activity, asserting the holiday instead just shifts consumer buying patterns.

The sales tax holiday bill cleared the House 136-20 and the Senate 27-11. Some lawmakers who voted for it said they did so reluctantly and hoped the measure would get a closer examination next year.