Tax free weekend

Not fond of taxes?

Well, this weekend everyone can avoid paying taxes on several items during the state Sales Tax Holiday.

The holiday – passed last week by state government as part of the larger Economic Development Bill – will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 14 and 15th. It exempts most items under $2,500 from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Already, retailers are pointing out that this holiday will be more lucrative than the last one, in 2008, because the sales tax rate has gone up from 5 percent to 6.25 percent.

"The last time we had a sales tax holiday, it was at 5 percent," said Alan Belinfante of Revere’s Beach Sales. "Now, with 6.25 percent, that’s a big jump. That’s 20 percent more tax savings and I think people will act on that."

Most larger retailers like Beach Sales have already started planning for the weekend, adding staff and increasing inventories.

"These sales tax holidays are important because businesses can grow their volume in a slow time and August is usually a slow retail month," said Belinfante. "It gives business a chance to keep their employees working and working overtime…It just gives everybody a little bump."

The Home Depot in Chelsea has already begun several adjustments.

"We’re preparing the store and making sure there will be enough staffing to take care of the customer demand," said Maria Reyes, specialty assistant store manager. "The tax-free days always seem to be a big hit. We do have a lot of special buys coming in and a lot of promotions happening for the weekend."

She indicated that the Chelsea store would be extending their hours on Saturday and Sunday, staying open until midnight both days.

Additionally, Beach Sales is also opening extended hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

At the Lowe’s in Saugus, that store will be offering a promotion of 10 percent off all Energy Star appliances in addition to the tax-free purchase.

"There is no better time for Massachusetts residents to purchase ENERGY STAR and WaterSense products," said Michael Chenard, Lowe’s director of environmental affairs. "These products can significantly reduce energy and water consumption and decrease utility bills throughout the year for the homeowner."

Just about every participating store agreed that customers would be hot for big-ticket items like televisions, clothes washers and refrigerators.

"I think it will be major appliances people have been holding off on and, again, large screen TVs will be hot," said Belinfante.

"Large ticket items like appliances are a big item on tax-free day," said Reyes. "We will be having a credit promotion for the customers that have a Home Depot card – 12 months with no interest and low payments."

Though most items are tax-exempt, including the smallest of purchases, there are some exceptions.

The following do not qualify for the sales tax holiday exemption and remain subject to tax: all motor vehicles, motorboats, meals, telecommunications services, gas, steam, electricity, tobacco products and any single item whose price is in excess of $2,500.

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