Friday afternoon, Governor Deval Patrick signed the sales tax holiday bill into law, ensuring that the 6.25 percent tax will be suspended for many purchases made the weekend of Aug. 10 and 11.
Cape & Islands State Senator Dan Wolf had said it makes little sense when policy leaders are trying to make the argument that the state needs more revenue for priorities like transportation.
Bill is bad for state's $16.9 billion tourism industry
The bill arrived at his desk Wednesday after it was gaveled through the House and Senate in informal sessions. Had it come up for another vote in the State Senate this week, Wolf had said he would vote against this annual tax holiday weekend.
Many local pundits believe he would have supported the bill if it didn't fall on one of the Cape's peak tourist weekends. The bill is intended to help sales of larger retail items which may encourage visitors to stay home and shop rather than come to the Cape on Saturday and Sunday August 10 and 11 at the height of our tourist season.
The state revenue department says tourism "is recognized as the third largest revenue-producing industry in Massachusetts with a $3.6 billion payroll across 124,700 jobs." The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism reports that in 2011 21.3 million people visited the Bay State and spent $16.9 billion.
Patrick signed the bill into law, Friday, a day when he met with his cabinet at his farm in Richmond, to the far west of the state. While legislative leaders have resisted making the law a permanent feature, they have reliably passed the legislation almost every year since it was first enacted in 2004 under the governorship of Mitt Romney.
Massachusetts is 18th state to have a tax holiday weekend
The Bay State is the 18th state to join the back-to-school tax holiday parade this year. Seventeen other states have a tax holidays this year, 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.
Retailers have only a short time to get ready for this year's tax holiday which comes in less than a week, 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.