OPINION | Barry Richard: Massachusetts Retailers Fight for Sales Tax Cut
Massachusetts residents may yet get a tax break, even though the Democratic majority in the legislature has indicated an unwillingness to support legislation that would roll back the state sales tax.
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts will proceed with an effort to collect the required signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November. RAM is calling for a rollback of the sales tax from 6.25 percent from 5 percent in 2019, and a permanent sales tax-free holiday each summer. It must collect 10,792 signatures by the first week of July in order to qualify the initiative petition for the ballot this year.
The sales tax reduction is being met with strong opposition from the legislative leadership. Senate President, Democrat Harriette Chandler, recently told reporters, "I don't think our bodies are going to agree on a lowering of the sales tax. We're concerned about revenue." House Speaker and Democrat Robert DeLeo echoed Chandler's remarks, stating, "I do not see that as an issue that will come before the House."
They didn't seem all that concerned about revenue when they voted themselves hefty pay increases last year while canceling another sales tax-free weekend. Incidentally, tax collections 10 months into the fiscal year are up $1.7 billion, or 8.1 percent, over the same period last year, according to the State House News Service.
Governor Charlie Baker supports the tax rollback, but it seems he would prefer it be done legislatively, rather than through the initiative petition process.
Massachusetts' small businesses are being pounded by one regulation or mandate after another, and deserve a permanent tax-free holiday to drive business when sales are slow in August. The tax-free weekend also provides an early launch to the holiday shopping season.
Taxpayers deserve a break, and government has to learn to live within its means. Let's make tax relief in Massachusetts a reality this fall.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.