Massachusetts State House File

Massachusetts sales tax isn’t among the highest in the country, but it’s also not the lowest. At 6.25 percent, it’s somewhere in the middle — but still, wouldn’t it be nice to have a tax free weekend? Well, a 2018 Massachusetts sales tax holiday has finally been approved by the state legislature. 

Lawmakers have passed an economic development bill that includes a 2018 sales tax holiday for Massachusetts right as they wrapped up their formal session, according to the Associated Press

The state legislature has supported the idea of a tax-free weekend in August, but there were still some steps that had to be taken before it became official this year. Now that everything's in place, here's what you need to know about the 2018 Massachusetts sales tax holiday.

The Massachusetts Senate on July 25 approved an amendment in an economic development bill establishing a sales tax holiday weekend. Sponsored by Sen. Bruce Tarr, the amendment is meant to offer “a brief reprieve from the sales tax burden on the citizens of the commonwealth.”

 

The Massachusetts House already agreed to hold a tax-free weekend when it passed its own version of the economic development bill earlier in July.

The two bills still needed to be reconciled, with a final version passed before the sales 2018 Massachusetts sales tax holiday is set in stone. But don't worry — state lawmakers did rush to give final approval to a series of bills before their Aug. 2 midnight deadline, and the economic development bill that includes a 2018 tax-free weekend made the cut. 

When is the 2018 Massachusetts sales tax holiday?

The 2018 sales tax holiday weekend in Massachusetts will be on August 11 and 12.

Some Bay Staters remember that there’s been a tax-free weekend across the commonwealth in past years, but there hasn’t been one since 2015.

In June, Baker signed a law requiring one weekend in August to be deemed a sales tax holiday every year, but the law does not officially go into effect until 2019. That has left it up to the state legislature to make the moves on if and when shoppers across the state will have a reprieve from the Massachusetts sales tax.

Beginning next year, the legislature will not have to vote on whether or not to have a sales tax holiday in Massachusetts, but it will still have to pick the dates. Lawmakers will have to set the specific August sales tax-free weekend by June 15.

What does the tax-free weekend cover?

The Massachusetts sales tax holiday does have some stipulations. Yes, it is a two-day break from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, but the tax-free weekend does not cover tobacco or marijuana products, vehicles, boats, meals or items that cost more than $2,500.

Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, said that the holiday would benefit families as they make their back-to-school purchases and boost retail across the state in general.

“In a bill centered on economic development, it's important we take the opportunity to boost demand, give consumers some relief and support our Main Street retailers who are very important employers in each community,” he said, according to State House News Service.

tax free weekend | massachusetts sales tax holiday

Ruth Medina and Howard Leffkin of Concord, Mass. try to decide on a dishwasher during a visit to the Sears store at Burlington Mall on August 13, 2011 during the sales tax holiday weekend in MA. They said they put off the purchase for two or three months in order to wait for the holiday. Photo: Getty Images

“This is an opportunity to help families purchase school supplies and signal our support for the beleaguered retail sector,” he continued, “the subject of a report recently completed by a Senate task force that indicated they need our support.”

The Massachusetts sales tax holiday typically costs the state up to $20 million in tax revenue a year. This year, however, the state has collected more in tax revenue than it anticipated — about $1.2 billion, according to the Department of Revenue — prompting Rep. Jeffrey Roy to previously say this would be a good year for the holiday.

"The sales tax holiday is something for one weekend that is good for retailers,” he said back when the House approved the idea, according to SHNS, “it's good for Main Street merchants, it's good for consumers, it's good for constituents and it's great for the Massachusetts economy.”