MA Joins Sales Tax Holiday Parade

 
Shoppers browse the outside racks behind a sign advertising Beall's Outlet's tax-free weekend sales in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Massachusetts just became the 18th state in the nation to offer tax-free shopping for back to school. (AP)

Massachusetts is the 18th state to join the back-to-school tax holiday parade this year. The legislature has authorized a tax-free weekend to begin Aug. 10.

Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill by the end of this week.

Some 17 other states have the tax holidays for 2013. Many begin this Saturday, mostly on sales of clothing, books and school supplies like notebooks and pens. Several states have expanded the idea to include separate pre-hurricane-season sales tax holidays for building and safety supplies, as well as a handful of “Energy Star” holidays for energy-efficient appliances. These holidays usually take place on different dates than the pre-school shopping sprees.

Massachusetts retailers have only a short time to gear up for the holiday but they are prepared, said Bill Rennie, vice president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “We’re not that concerned that people won’t be aware of it, even though the holiday was just passed yesterday. We had some indication they (the legislature) would do it, so retailers are prepared with advertising. They can hit ‘send’ and get the word out,” he said.

It will be the state’s ninth tax holiday in ten years and will temporarily scrap the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax on most single items priced under $2,500. The state did not institute the holiday in 2009, during the depths of the recession. The measure is projected to cost the state $20 million in tax revenues, about the same as last year. A provision in the tax holiday bill calls for the revenue to be offset with money from legal settlements or judgments.

The Massachusetts sales tax holiday is one of the broadest in the country, covering purchases of almost everything except restaurant meals, cars, motorboats and tobacco. State Sen. Michael R. Knapik, a Republican supporter of the action, said legislative support coalesced around the measure when the state’s Department of Revenue indicated tax collections were up 4.8 percent from last year— $627 million above projections. Many states have revenue collections running above projections, though state budget officials are reluctant to predict that the collections will continue that high.

Rennie also noted that neighboring New Hampshire has no sales tax and the Connecticut sales tax holiday is scheduled Aug. 18-24.

Knapik said in a statement that the action will allow Massachusetts families “to save some of their hard-earned money, especially during back-to-school time. It is also helpful to area businesses which have traditionally seen enormous increases in transactions on these days.”

Opponents argue the tax holidays don’t do state economies much good, saying they mostly result in consumers shifting purchases to the tax-free days. Matt Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank, said the loss of state revenue means cuts have to be made elsewhere or other taxes raised.

2013 STATE SALES TAX HOLIDAYS

STATE

(Maximum Tax-Free Amount Per Item)

ITEMS INCLUDED

(Maximum Tax-Free Amount Per Item)

2013 DATES

(Maximum Tax-Free Amount Per Item)

AL

  • clothing - $100
  • computers - $750
  • school supplies -$50
  • books - $30

Aug. 2-4

 More info 

AR

  • clothing - $100
  • inexpensive school supplies

Aug. 3-4

 More info 

CT

  • clothing and footwear - $300

Aug. 18-24

 More info

FL

  • school supplies - $15
  • clothing - $75
  • computers - $750

Aug. 2-4

 More info

GA

Aug. 9-10

  • school supplies - $20
  • clothing - $100
  • computers - $1,000

Oct. 4-6

  • energy and water efficient products - $1,500

More info

IA

  • clothing - $100

Aug. 2-3

 More info

LA

  • most personal retail purchases - $2,500

Aug. 2-3 

 More info

MD

  • clothing & footwear - $100

Aug. 11-17

 More info

MS

  • clothing & footwear - $100

July 26-27

 More info

MO

  • clothing - $100
  • computers - $3,500
  • school supplies - $50

Aug. 2-4

 More info

NM

  • clothing - $100
  • computers - $1,000
  • computer equip. - $500
  • school supplies - $30

Aug. 2-4

 More info

NC

Aug. 2-4

  • clothing - $100
  • school supplies- $100
  • instructional material - $300
  • computers - $3,500
  • other comp. - $250

Nov. 1-3

  • Energy Star products - no limit

More info:

Aug. 2-4, Nov. 1-3 

 OK 

  • clothing - $100

 Aug. 2-4

 More info

SC

  • clothing -no limit
  • school supplies -no limit
  • computers -no limit

Aug. 2-4 

 More info 

TN

  • clothing - $100
  • school supplies $100
  • computers - $1,500

 Aug. 2-4

 More info 

TX

  • clothing, backpacks and school supplies - $100

Aug. 9-11

 More info 

VA

Aug. 2-4

  • clothing - $100
  • school supplies - $20

Oct. 11-14

  • Energy Star products - $2,500

More info

Source: Federation of Tax Administrators

  Return to top

 
X

Related Stories

PCS.PRODUCTION.1.20140221.1210 (PEWSUWVMWAPP02)