Happy (tax) holidays?


The House approved an amendment to an economic development bill Tuesday that would establish the weekend of August 11 and 12 as a sales tax–free weekend, according to the State House News Service.

“The sales tax holiday is something for one weekend that is good for retailers, it’s good for Main Street merchants, it’s good for consumers, it’s good for constituents, and it’s great for the Massachusetts economy,” State Rep. Jeffrey Roy, D-Norfolk, who sponsored the amendment, was quoted as saying by the news service.

Richard Gallant, sales manager for Crane Appliance in Tisbury, said the sales tax–free weekend is like a Super Bowl for the store, and increases foot traffic and business every year it is held. “When customers come to see a unit’s price, they know that’s the price with no extra,” said Gallant. “It’s all hands on deck that weekend, in order to help the customers find what they need.”

The amendment calls for the 6.25 percent sales tax to be frozen for the weekend on most items that cost less than $2,500. The tax holiday would not apply to tobacco, marijuana, gas, electricity, cars, boats, or meals.

The House voted 124-18 to adopt the amendment, according to the news service.

Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Middlesex and House Revenue Committee chairman, opposed the amendment because of the “mythology” that tax holidays generate business and help all retailers. The holiday shifts the timing of consumer spending and hurts small businesses that have to pay to have additional employees working that weekend, he said.

A law Gov. Charlie Baker signed in late June establishes an annual two-day reprieve from the 6.25 percent sales tax beginning in 2019, but did not address the issue of a sales tax holiday this summer.

The Senate must also agree to a sales tax holiday this summer, and it must be signed into law by the governor before the tax freeze could take effect.