Massachusetts retailers move forward with 5 percent sales tax ballot question

The petition would also establish an annual sales tax holiday

BOSTON (WWLP)—You could vote in 2018 to give yourself a break from Massachusetts’ 6.25 percent sales tax. Massachusetts retailers are moving forward with a campaign to put a sales tax reduction and permanent sales tax holiday before voters on the 2018 ballot.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is leading a ballot campaign to reduce the state sales tax to five percent and establish an annual sales tax holiday.

“We’re hopeful that the voters here in the Commonwealth will be supportive of helping our small businesses, our main streets and also our low-income working families and our seniors on fixed incomes,” President Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts told 22News.

The group mulled over four certified initiatives that included a reduction of the sales tax to as low as four and a half percent before deciding to concentrate efforts on a five percent sales tax Thursday. The campaign will now have to gather more than 64,000 signatures before the petition can make it on the 2018 ballot.

But some lawmakers are concerned that lowering the sales tax would forfeit revenue for state funded programs that people in their communities rely on.

“It would be a very dramatic decrease in state funding for our schools, for our fire departments, for our police and for health care,” State Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield) said. “And the only way you can deliver those good services is if you have the funding and the resources.”

The state lost an estimated $25 million in potential revenue in 2015 due to a sales tax holiday weekend, according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

Ballot campaigners have until late November to file the required signatures with local election officials.