What to know ahead of the sales tax holiday weekend

Shoppers carry bags during a busy day on Newbury Street. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Shoppers carry bags during a busy day on Newbury Street. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Massachusetts is holding a sales tax holiday this weekend. Consumers will be able to buy selected retail items without paying the 6.25% state sales tax on Aug. 12 and 13.

The tax break applies to most purchases that cost no more than $2,500 and are bought for personal use.

Here's what to know about the holiday:

What is excluded from the tax holiday

The tax break does not cover some key items, such as

  • Food
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Telecommunication services
  • Tobacco and cannabis products
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Cars, motorboats and other vehicles

Bill Rennie, vice president of the Retailers' Association of Massachusetts, said the exclusions were intentional.

"Most of those tend to be items that you are not trying to incentivize," Rennie said, or are things "that we need to buy on a regular basis anyways."

The tax break also excludes all items above $2,500 and business purchases.

Benefits of the sales tax holiday

Rennie said that the sales tax holiday was  planned for  August to help local retailers in the quiet season, ahead of the back-to-school shopping rush. He added that big-ticket retailers tend to record most sales during the weekend.

"Over the years we've had many furniture and electronics and appliance sellers report to us that the sales tax holiday is their biggest weekend of the year," Rennie said. "Sometimes, [the tax holiday] Saturday can be the biggest sales day of the entire year. "

Shoppers will be able to snag holiday deals both in-store and online. Tax-free deals also apply to online orders placed on the Saturday or Sunday, that will be delivered to a Massachusetts address after the holiday weekend.

Rennie said retailers often compete and offer additional exclusive discounts on top of the tax exemption to attract customers.

The shopping rush is a good time to boost support for local businesses too.

"The sales tax holiday is one weekend where we can try to shop locally," he said. "Consumers like it, retailers like it and it means a great deal to a lot of our local retailers."


Irina Matchavariani WBUR Newsroom Fellow
Irina Matchavariani is a newsroom fellow at WBUR.



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