August sales tax holiday in jeopardy this year

The state is expected to fall short of its tax revenue projections by as much as $750-million-dollars

BOSTON (WWLP) — The Baker administration said tax revenues are expected to fall short of expectations next fiscal year by hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s leaving many on Beacon Hill to wonder whether the state can afford a tax-free weekend this year.

The August sales tax holiday is two days out of the year when Massachusetts shoppers can skip the 6.25-percent sales tax. It’s a good opportunity for parents to save money on school supplies, and for people to splurge on those pricey electronics, but before you get excited — lawmakers are hesitant to confirm a date.

“The Senate’s always been, well I shouldn’t say always — has increasingly been skeptical about whether this is a good use of $20 (million-dollars), now $25-million-dollars a year,” said state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst).

Governor Charlie Baker said fiscal 2017 tax revenues could come in way below initial expectations, by as much as $750-million-dollars. Top state leaders are having second thoughts about approving a sales tax-free weekend this year, questioning whether the state can afford the loss in tax revenue.

House Ways and Means chairman State Representative Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) told 22News, “It’s a cost in the $23 (million-dollar) to $28-million-dollar range. It’s something we have to take a hard look at, so that’s certainly a part of our analysis.”

The August sales tax holiday requires legislative approval, and then the governor’s signature before it can become law each year.

The two-day tax break almost always lands in August to encourage people to spend their money during the slowest shopping month of the year.

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