The Massachusetts House approved an amendment to an economic development bill Tuesday that would establish the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12 as a sales tax-free weekend.
"The sales tax holiday is something for one weekend that is good for retailers, 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," Rep. Jeffrey Roy, who sponsored the amendment, said on the House floor.
The amendment calls for the 6.25 percent sales tax to be frozen for two days on most items that cost less than $2,500. The tax holiday would not apply to tobacco, marijuana, gas, electricity, cars, boats or meals.
The House voted 124-18 to adopt the amendment, with progressive Democrats voting in opposition.
Rep. Jay Kaufman, House Revenue Committee chairman, opposed the amendment because of the "mythology" that tax holidays generate business and help all retailers. The holiday shifts the timing of consumer spending and hurts small businesses that have to pay to have additional employees working that weekend, he said.
A law Gov. Charlie Baker signed in late June establishes an annual two-day reprieve from the 6.25 percent sales tax beginning in 2019, but did not address the issue of a sales tax holiday this summer.
Roy said this summer is a good time to hold a sales tax holiday weekend because the state has collected more in tax revenue than it was expecting -- to the tune of about $1.2 billion, according to the Department of Revenue.
The Senate must also agree to a sales tax holiday this summer and it must be signed into law by the governor before the tax freeze could take effect.