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Here's What You Can — And Can't — Buy Tax-Free In Mass. This Weekend

Home goods that cost $2,500 or less, whether bought in-store or online from a vendor like Boston-based Wayfair, are tax-free during the holiday. Cannabis products, such as the CBD truffles sold by Heavenly Chocolate in Northampton, remain subject to the normal, 6.25% levy. (Wayfair photo by Jenny Kane/AP; Truffle photo by Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Home goods that cost $2,500 or less, whether bought in-store or online from a vendor like Boston-based Wayfair, are tax-free during the holiday. Cannabis products, such as the CBD truffles sold by Heavenly Chocolate in Northampton, remain subject to the normal, 6.25% levy. (Wayfair photo by Jenny Kane/AP; Truffle photo by Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The Massachusetts sales tax holiday begins at 12 a.m. Saturday, making this a good weekend for back-to-school shopping or buying a new TV before the start of football season.

There are some limits on the savings, however:

  • The aforementioned TV — or any product, for that matter — is only tax-free if it costs $2,500 or less. So, if you're planning to spend $70,000 to watch Tom Brady in 98 inches of dazzling, 8K glory, you'll pay the state's regular, 6.25% sales tax.
  • Marijuana is legal now, but sorry, you'll still pay taxes on cannabis products. Tobacco and alcohol also remain taxable.
  • Gassing up for a late-summer getaway? Go ahead, but the fuel will be taxed as usual.
  • Motor vehicles, including boats, are not included in the holiday.
  • The sales tax still applies to prepared meals.

Despite constraints, Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said businesses welcome the two-day holiday.

"It's not a 365-day sales tax cut, but it is an important, annual, summer incentive for consumers to spend locally," he said.

It hasn't always been annual, but a law passed last year makes the holiday an August fixture, going forward.

Some notable things that are tax-free this weekend:

  • Massachusetts recently began to demand sales tax payments from online retailers, following a Supreme Court decision in a case involving Boston-based Wayfair. This weekend, however, online purchases are once again tax-free.
  • Most clothes are untaxed anyway, but shoppers normally do have to pay taxes on items that cost more than $175. Not this weekend. So, it's a good time to buy a suit, a wedding dress or a pair of Air Jordans.
  • It's also a good time to take your car to the mechanic for that tune-up you've been putting off. A mechanic's labor is always tax-free; parts usually are not, so the holiday is an opportunity to save.

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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