This weekend, shoppers will converge on stores and malls across the Commonwealth to take advantage of the sales tax holiday weekend. The whole thing is pure foolishness and I will explain why.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 6.25 percent state sales tax will be waived for many–but not all–retail items. Food and drink are not included. Sorry. It is the first time in three years that state lawmakers have approved the sales tax holiday.

The sales tax holiday saves shoppers a minimal amount of money and is hardly worth leaving the beach for. It costs the state an estimated $16.7 million-$37.7 million that results in less money for the School Modernization and Reconstruction Trust Fund and the MBTA.

The sales tax holiday drives shoppers into stores during a time those stores would otherwise be empty, so in that regard, it's a good thing. It has also become synonymous now with the kick-off to the holiday shopping season, so that's another good thing.

Visit the mall on any other day in August and you are greeted by signs advertising huge summer clearance sales. Got to make room for the Halloween costumes and Christmas trees, after all. Some of those sales offer as much as 60 percent to 70 percent off. Great deals, if only you can abandon the tiki bar for just a few hours.

When you compare 60 percent-70 percent to 6.25 percent, there isn't much of a case for the sales tax holiday–especially when the state is going to lose so much money. I'd rather get a tax rebate check or a lower tax rate.

We complain when wealthy sports teams expect taxpayers to build them new stadiums but isn't this kinda the same thing? I mean, if business needs a mid-summer boost, should the taxpayer be asked to shoulder the burden? Perhaps businesses should provide greater incentives to shoppers and not leave it to the state to select winners and losers in the retail world.

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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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