The annual tax free weekend in Massachusetts is providing a glimmer of hope for small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
“I believe it gives people incentive to come out,” said Phuni Meston-Eames, the owner of Karma, a small gift shop in Newton.
The sales tax holiday is coming at the right time for Meston-Eames. It’s been a tough few months as a business owner but she also battled COVID-19 in early March.
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“I thought I was not going to make it because I have rheumatoid arthritis,” she said.
But Meston-Eames is here today, stronger and more determined.
“I think we need human connection and we need to support each other,” she said.
The 6.25 percent state sales tax is on hold all weekend. It’s good for items worth up $2,500. Gov. Charlie Baker is urging people to use that discount on local businesses that have taken a hit during the pandemic.
“It’s really important to us,” said Dr. Renee Moran, the owner of Dr. Renee Moran Medical Aesthetics.
Several businesses in Newton Centre and Piccadilly Square banded together to create a sales tax holiday stroll. Dr. Moran, who also sells skin care products, helped to organize it.
“It’s been really tough,” said Dr. Moran. “A lot of the businesses have been hurting and some didn’t survive which is so sad to us. So I had been trying to be creative and think of a way to bring foot traffic back here.”
They set up a raffle. Customers can bring a receipt from a participating business and enter it in a raffle for a gift bag that’s been put together by those same businesses.
“We feel really strongly about community over competition,” said Dr. Moran.
Businesses are working together in a challenging time.
“Just to realize that small businesses really need support,” said Meston-Eames.
All businesses normally making taxable sales in Massachusetts or to purchasers in Massachusetts that are open for business on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 must participate in the sales tax holiday, including internet vendors. However, there are numerous items which don't qualify as tax free, including meals, motor vehicles, motor boats, telecommunications services, gas, steam, electricity, tobacco products, marijuana and alcoholic beverages.
Eligible items purchased on the internet qualify for the sales tax holiday, even if they aren't scheduled to arrive until after the weekend is over.