EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 10, 2012

Column: Sales tax holiday should be expanded and made permanent

Paul D. Craney
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Tuesday’s editorial by The Eagle Tribune titled “Sales Tax Holiday a Reminder that Real Tax Reform is Needed” should be mailed to every legislator in the Statehouse and sent to the Governor’s Office. The Tribune’s editorial clearly lays out sound arguments in support of reducing the sales tax burden and making the sales tax holiday permanent.

If leaders in the Legislature and the governor have the political will to do what’s best for the taxpayers and the economy, they will make the sales tax holiday permanent and expand the program. The sales tax holiday should not just apply to a weekend in August. More weekends and days should be considered. If the governor and leaders in the Legislature make the holiday permanent, retailers could benefit by anticipating advertising needs, increasing hiring and improving our reputation as a place to do business.

Unfortunately for Massachusetts, our economic edge for competitiveness could not get much worse. According to CNBC’s 2012 rankings, Massachusetts is the second most expensive state to do business. Massachusetts also ranks as the ninth most expensive state in the cost of living category. These are dismal results and our governor, along with leaders in the Legislature, should be doing much more to drive down the cost of living and doing business.

The Tribune’s editorial states that, “Last year, shoppers saved an estimated $21 million during the two-day tax holiday … That means retailers took in more than $330 million that weekend. That’s something to celebrate.” Voters should also celebrate and applaud the legislators who have good voting records on the sales tax holiday and sales tax.

While some in the Legislature understand the need to make Massachusetts more competitive, to most it falls on deaf ears. What is clear to us vexes others in the Statehouse. Former state Rep. Barbara L’Italien, who is running for her old position in the Legislature, and state Senator Barry Finegold, voted in 2009 to raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent. Gov. Patrick, at times, has a difficult time seeing the value in the sales tax holiday. Just this year, six state senators voted against the proposed sales tax holiday.

Voters should consider the words of the Tribune’s editorial that the “sales tax holiday is also occasion to think about just how dysfunctional and destructive the Bay States tax system is.” The election is less than 100 days away; consider these facts when you cast your ballot in November.

Paul D. Craney is the executive director of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a right-of-center economic, fiscal and good government organization.