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August 6, 2015

Baker signs sales tax holiday bill

Gov. Charlie Baker made it official Thursday morning, signing legislation authorizing a sales tax holiday for the weekend of Aug. 15 and 16 on most major purchases in the Bay State.

Baker, joined for the signing by representatives from the small business retail sector, green-lighted the suspension of the state's 6.25 percent sales tax by signing the tax holiday bill passed last week by the Legislature.

“The sales tax holiday gives consumers a much needed break while bolstering business across the commonwealth for our hardworking retailers,” the governor said in a statement released by his office. “We appreciate the legislature’s work on this important weekend that many people look forward to each year and encourage the commonwealth to shop local and enjoy this opportunity to make purchases tax free.”

The tax holiday bill drew strong support from Republicans, but divided Democrats, with critics of the idea calling it a "boondoggle" and minimizing the 6.25 percent savings that consumers would receive by buying items exempt from the sales tax.

Nonetheless, the bill cleared the House 136-20 and the Senate 27-11. Some lawmakers who voted for it said they did so reluctantly and hoped the measure would get a closer examination next year.

“The sales tax holiday has become an annual event that everyone looks forward to,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. "It's a proven winner, incentivizing shoppers to invest back into our local economy, while allowing Massachusetts businesses to recapture more than $168 million in sales otherwise headed to nearby states or online. And consumers get a few dollars back in their pockets, too.”

The state has authorized a sales tax holiday in 11 of the last 12 years, the only exception being 2009, as Massachusetts faced a revenue shortfall.

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