Op-Ed: MA Should Lower Its Sales Tax Rate

Massachusetts Should Lower Its Sales Tax

 

In my hometown of Acton, I’ve seen more and more ‘For Lease’ signs popping up throughout our retail areas. I’ve talked with independent retailers who have had to close their doors, and the answer is the same:  times are tough. While the overall economy is booming, retailers in Massachusetts, especially the local, independent ones we all love to have in our communities, are getting squeezed. Online retailers lure many customers away with buy-from-home convenience while sales tax-free New Hampshire lures others with lower overall prices. It is no coincidence that a massive retail complex is located just over the border from Massachusetts in Nashua, New Hampshire, capturing all the revenue that could be had in Massachusetts if we’re given sales tax relief. The inevitable result of this retail squeeze is lost jobs.

 

Massachusetts should lower its sales tax. 

 

The sales tax not only hurts our retailers, but it also disproportionately hurts those with the lowest incomes in our state.  A sales tax is a regressive tax, hurting individuals more with lower incomes than those with higher incomes. Since everyone has to pay the same amount of sales tax on each purchase, those with lower incomes spend a larger percentage of their income when paying the tax.

 

Massachusetts should lower its sales tax.

 

Our legislators voted against lowering the sales tax from 6.25% to 5%. Legislators felt the state could not do without the revenue that would be lost by reducing the sales tax to 5%. However, these are the same lawmakers who did not seem as concerned about displaced revenue when they voted to raise their own wages by up to 45% at the very beginning of this legislative session in January of 2017.  Moreover, this year the state received news that 2017 tax revenues were over $1.1 billion more than expected. Unfortunately, this windfall was not enough to convince lawmakers to give people back their hard-earned money.

 

Massachusetts should lower its sales tax.

 

My opponent, Jamie Eldridge, has consistently advocated for sales tax increases and against sales tax holidays. Most recently, he voted against the sales tax holiday planned for August 11-12 that would allow Massachusetts residents to make purchases for the upcoming school year sales tax-free and give local retailers much needed revenue in a climate of fierce competition for consumer dollars.

 

As your next state senator for the Middlesex & Worcester district, I will support policies like a lower sales tax that will help small businesses and retailers bring jobs and greater opportunities to those across the economic spectrum and reduce the tax burden for our most vulnerable citizens.