State lawmakers debating return of sales tax holiday weekend

Tax free weekend was canceled last year

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The sales tax holiday weekend could make a return to Massachusetts.

State lawmakers have the same debate every year: Should Massachusetts have a sales tax free weekend? Supporters say it allows small businesses to get ahead of online shopping, while opponents argue the state can’t afford it.

The state has had a tax free weekend nearly every summer since August 2004. The weekend gives shoppers a chance to make purchases, without paying the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Lawmakers have canceled the tax free weekend twice, once during the recession in 2009, and again last year, due to a budget shortfall. The state is facing another budget gap this year, which is why some lawmakers want to cancel the holiday for the second year in a row.

Lawmakers estimate the state loses about $25 million in tax revenue during that weekend.

The Joint Committee on Revenue is now considering four bills that could decide whether the sales tax holiday weekend makes a return.

Two of those bills would make the holiday permanent. The other two would guarantee the holiday for 2017 and 2018.

At least one of those bills needs to get through committee before lawmakers make a final decision.