Sales Tax Takes a Holiday August 13-14 in Massachusetts: Some Tips | Business

Welcome to my Consumer Doctor column for The Berkshire Eagle! I am pleased to start this column on the Massachusetts sales tax holiday weekend which will take place on August 13-14.

Last month, there was an annual inflation rate of 9 percent. This means that the value of the dollar is shrinking along with its purchasing power, which is getting out of control. Let’s see how we can slow down this steep and downhill economic road by saving money.

During the upcoming sales tax holiday weekend, any single-product item, purchased at a retail store or online for personal use, that sells for $2,500 or less is exempt from Massachusetts sales tax. There are exclusions, including meals, motor vehicles, tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages.

Any online purchase paid in full before August 14 will be exempt from tax, regardless of its delivery date. Online orders should not automatically be charged state sales tax this weekend. This was confirmed after speaking with two company corporate officials online: Susan Frachette, associate director of corporate communications for Wayfair, and Elizabeth Palo, account coordinator for Target.

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Still, before you pay, I’d make sure there isn’t a sales tax on your bill.

But, if you are mistakenly charged sales tax, there is a remedy.

Naysa Woomer of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue recommends that you provide a copy of the receipts and visit the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website for a list of frequently asked questions. This site also has more specific details about what is and is not exempt from sales tax.

DISCOUNTED ITEMS

With summer drawing to a close, various items are going on sale during the month of August. Outdoor barbecue grills are one example, but there are several types of grills.

Bart Raser, president of Carr Hardware, explained that in addition to charcoal grills, there are also propane, gas, electric, and pellet grills.

So how do you know what is best for you?

“It depends on your culinary lifestyle,” Raser said. “Hardcore steakhouses who like it low [temperature] and slow [cooking time] I should buy a charcoal grill.”

He added, “Budget is another factor, so you should always consult a grill expert before buying one.”

Looking at other August offerings, Raser pointed to generators and electrical equipment. During the sales tax free weekend, your customers will receive a “double tax free weekend” when there will be a 6.25 percent discount from Carr, in addition to the 6.25 sales tax exemption percent, for a total savings of 12.5 percent. That sounds like a good deal to me.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Although the cost of school supplies and school clothes has increased, this increase can be reduced by companies like Target.

Here, college students can save up to 20 percent on a one-time purchase in their Target Circle Offer program through Sept. 3. Teachers can save 15 percent on school supplies as part of their teacher preparation event through September 10. according to Palo of Target’s corporate office.

At Staples, teachers can save 5 percent for themselves in their Staple Rewards program. You may also want to look for laptops, printers, cable routers, and tablets at these or other retailers/electronic retailers. I’d check with your schools’ websites now, so you can take advantage of this upcoming sales tax holiday weekend.

SUMMER CLOTHES

As most of you know, summer swimwear and summer wear will also be on sale to clear your inventory for the upcoming fall wear. Right now, companies like Gap, Kohl’s, and Macy’s already advertise their deep discounts online. You may also want to check your local retail stores.

In addition, there are “daily deals” sites such as SlickDeals, DealNews, and Groupon that provide company sites offering deep discounts on selected products. In some cases, companies like Best Buy have daily deals on their websites.

Another way to save is to look for companies that offer free shipping based on a minimum purchase order amount. However, there are sometimes free shipping specials, which are advertised on their sites or if you sign up for their emails.

I hope this column helps you save some money. After all, consumer insight gives you pocket power.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Enjoy your sales tax holiday weekend.

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