Dept. of Revenue estimates fall short
By Matthew M. Robare
Death may never take a holiday, but sales taxes in Massachusetts took last weekend off, at least on “single items of tangible personal property costing $2500 or less,” according to the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) technical information release. This was good news to Saugus retailers.
“Both days were slammed,” said Matt Bourassa, general manager of the Square One Mall. “We had double the traffic we were expecting.”
“The tax holiday is always a great thing for businesses, especially for retailers,” said Sean Grant, executive director of the Saugus Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great way for those businesses that are traditionally slow during the summer to get extra revenue, and it’s great for the community.”
However, the Department of Revenue estimated that the Commonwealth didn’t collect the needed $21.55 million in sales taxes Saturday and Sunday, according to spokesperson Ann Dufresne. “We have to certify that in December.” The taxpayers of Massachusetts will still have to come up with the $21 million. “Once it’s appropriate the administration will look at ways to replace the revenue we did not get this weekend,” Dufresne said.
The town could also see boosts to its financial numbers from the holiday, as the meals tax was not suspended. “The food court was very busy,” Bourassa said. “It was a win-win for all of our tenants.”
“I would expect that restaurants are busier,” Grant said. “I don’t know what the numbers are.”
Additional economic benefits can be seen, because stores would have had more people working over the weekend. Bourassa said that Best Buy and Sears had extra staff working and he thought other stores did, as well.
“Any additional business, especially in this economy, is a good thing,” Grant said. “It’s a win-win for business no matter where they are economically.”
“Overall, traffic was phenomenal,” Bourassa said about business at the mall. “The whole weekend went pretty smooth. Some of the stores opened early. We had steady traffic throughout the day.” He added that they had no problems with buses or parking.
According to a DOR report, the 2011 sales tax holiday didn’t affect funding for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), but did affect the School Modernization and Reconstruction Trust Fund and Commonwealth Transportation Fund. The DOR also estimated that the holiday resulted in Massachusetts going without $20.98 million, as opposed to this year’s estimate of $21.55 million.
“It really does act as a trigger for people to get the items they’ve been waiting for,” Bourassa said of the holiday. “People were buying plenty of clothing, too. It just sparked people to get out.”