Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday Weekend Set For August 13-14

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By Sam Doran
State House News Service

The state Legislature on Monday set the dates of this year’s sales tax holiday weekend, settling on August 13 and 14, when Massachusetts shoppers will get a break from state sales tax on most retail items less than $2,500.

The annual sales-tax-free weekend was made permanent by a 2018 law, which calls on the Legislature to set the dates by June 15 each year; otherwise the state Department of Revenue gets to pick.

As part of the “grand bargain” law, retailers in 2018 dropped their push for a ballot question asking voters to lower the 6.25 percent sales tax to 5 percent, where it stood for several decades. That law also raised the minimum wage from $11 to $15 an hour over a five-year period, phased out time-and-a-half pay for workers on Sundays and holidays over that same period, and solidified the launch of a paid family and medical leave program overseen by the state government and backed by a payroll tax.

The co-chairmen of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development, state Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) and state Representative Jerry Parisella (D-Beverly) sponsored the date-setting measures in their respective branches Monday, June 13.

Prior to the Senate’s vote, state Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), the minority leader, said the Legislature is being “proactive” and setting the date, but he found it “unfortunate” no other tax relief steps had yet been taken.

“While we are here to at least accomplish two days of sales tax relief, I would hope with the remaining time in this session that we would consider still expanding this sales tax holiday,” Tarr said, “as one of the best ways to be able to give tax relief to the citizens of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, who are watching these debates, and asking themselves — repetitively — if we have billions of dollars in surplus, and we are properly funding all of our accounts, then why is it that we cannot find the ability to reach consensus on offering substantial, responsible tax relief?”

The sales tax holiday does not apply to purchases of some specific goods or services:  motor vehicles, motorboats, meals, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, marijuana products, telecommunications services like prepaid calls, natural gas, steam, or electricity.


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