Mass. says goodbye to sales tax holiday

Marketplace Staff Jul 31, 2009
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Mass. says goodbye to sales tax holiday

Marketplace Staff Jul 31, 2009
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Bill Radke: How’s this for a summer ritual? One weekend a year every August, there’s no state sales tax. Shoppers love it, retailers love it, it’s been a happy ritual in Massachusetts for the past five years. But this year, the Massachusetts sales tax holiday has disappeared — in fact, adding insult to the injury, the state sales tax goes up tomorrow by 25 percent. From WBUR in Boston, Abigail Beshkin reports.


Pat: We’ll make sure it fits.

Abigail Beshkin: At Circle Furniture in Cambridge, owner Richard Tubman looks over his Vermont-crafted wood tables and Norway-made chairs. He says he relied on the sales tax holiday in past years to boost his balance sheets in the dog days of summer.

Richard Tubman: We would do approximately a month’s worth of business in a day. We could put a full page ad in every newspaper and say 5 percent off, and I just don’t think people would get that excited, but the sales tax holiday got people very, very excited for the last few years.

But this year, there’ll be no sales tax vacation. And as of tomorrow, shoppers will see sales taxes in the state jump from 5 percent to 6.25 percent.

That could mean more lost sales, says Jon Hurst with the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. Especially since neighboring New Hampshire has no sales tax.

Jon Hurst: There is no consumer more than really an hour’s drive to New Hampshire. Plus, really, we also have the most tech-savvy consumer in the nation here in Massachusetts, and you know most purchases online are tax-free.

But Massachusetts is facing a $2 billion budget deficit, so community groups lobbied hard for the sales tax increase, hoping to keep state budget cuts to a minimum.

Harris Gruman organized the successful lobbying effort and says he’s happy to pay a bit extra in taxes.

Harris Gruman: I’m proud of the public schools my kids go to. I’m proud of the roads I drive on the subway I use to get to work, the libraries in our town. I believe in all of that — that’s what makes our life good.

Many store owners and customers say what would really make life good would be a sales tax holiday. The Massachusetts Senate just voted down a last-ditch proposal to hold a tax holiday this weekend. But Jon Hurst of the Retailer’s Associations says he’ll keep pushing lawmakers, reminding them they need to persuade people to spend their money and spend it in Massachusetts.

In Boston, I’m Abigail Beshkin for Marketplace.

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