By Bob Katzen
The House and Senate approved, on a voice vote without debate and without a roll call vote, a measure designating Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18 as this year’s sales tax holiday which allows consumers to buy most products that cost under $2,500 on those two days without paying the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. The vote was only on choosing the dates, not on establishing the holiday itself. Last year the Legislature instituted a permanent annual sales tax holiday and gave the Legislature the power to choose the date each year.
Supporters of the measure say the holiday, which has been in effect for many years, would boost retail sales and noted that consumers would save millions of dollars. They argue that the state’s sales tax revenue loss would be offset by increased revenue from the meals and gas tax revenue generated by shoppers on those two days.
Some opponents of the holiday say the state cannot afford the up to $30 million estimated revenue loss and argue the holiday actually generates little additional revenue for stores because consumers typically buy the products even without the tax-free days. They say that the Legislature should be looking at broader, deeper tax relief for individuals and businesses and not a tiny tax-free holiday. Others say that legislators should not vote for this tax holiday when they have not yet restored all of the important program cuts made over the past few years.