Jon Hurst wants to hand you a tax cut, one that could be worth some $1 billion a year.
Hurst and the organization he leads, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, are well on their way to getting a question on the ballot in 2018 that would reduce the state’s sales tax, from 6.25 percent to 5 percent. The move essentially would send the tax back to where it was in 2009. Also part of the ballot question: giving the sales tax holiday a permanent place on the calendar in August.
Hurst says RAM has collected about 50,000 signatures so far and aims for 100,000 this fall. Ballot question proponents need nearly 65,000 at this stage. Hurst wants far more to be on the safe side.
Simply going by last year’s collections, shrinking the sales tax by 20 percent would cost the state about $1.2 billion in lost revenue. But Hurst says the net effect on the state budget would be significantly less, maybe even half that amount, largely because consumers would spend more at brick-and-mortar shops in Massachusetts.
The Legislature gets the opportunity to tackle ballot question issues before voters do, and deals are often reached. This sales tax question is a response to the indifference Hurst says his industry regularly faces on Beacon Hill. The decision to not hold the sales tax holiday again is one example Hurst cites, but not the only one.
With a ballot question looming, Hurst can head to the State House knowing lawmakers will be paying attention.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jonchesto.