Guest MINDSETTER™ Rep. Solomon: The Sales Tax Holiday Weekend
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Every idea, every scenario is fraught with debate. An effort to help businesses invariably means a hit to the state’s revenue, so we’re always looking to find a balance.
This year, I’ve submitted legislation that would create a sales tax holiday weekend — similar to the one they have in neighboring Massachusetts. For two days in August, items below $2,500 would be exempt from the state’s 7 percent sales tax.
This idea, too, has seen its share of controversy. Some question the benefit to small business. Most want to know how the loss in revenue would be made up.
The fact is we’re already seeing a loss in sales tax revenue to the internet. Remote sales, which are usually tax free, have been experiencing double digit growth almost every year. And the ease at which those sales are made right on our phones (along with easy comparison shopping) has driven so many retail purchases out of the stores and left Main Street in the dark.
The sales tax weekend gives our legislators the opportunity to create genuine consumer incentive and send a strong message to businesses and citizens that it does matter to us where you spend your money. And in today’s world of unlimited online shopping options, those state incentives are more important than ever.
For years, Massachusetts has understood this. Even before the internet boom, they had to face the realities of living next door to tax-free New Hampshire. The result of their efforts is that people are leaving Rhode Island to make their purchases in the commonwealth. It’s time to draw people into our state rather than send them away. Here’s an instance where Rhode Island’s size can be an asset. We have two states within short driving distance. We can encourage citizens of Connecticut and Massachusetts to come here to spend their money. It will work better for us a tool to draw people into the state than it would in larger states.
Not only would this help our businesses, but it would help our people too — particularly our low-income citizens. Sales tax is regressive, no doubt about it. It disproportionately hurts low-income families that may not have credit cards or online access. Higher-income families can and do avoid sales taxes. You can just make the purchase on your phone and, presto, a 7 percent discount in the form of no sales tax, with the item being brought to your door, sometimes the very next day.
It’s no secret that sales tax laws discriminate against local employers, but until Congress grants states the authority to go after online retail sellers, it will continue to be a problem. Congress drags its feet because it’s a state problem, so they feel they don’t have to worry about it.
The fact is that a sales tax weekend can and will help sales and foot traffic for our local retailers. And the loss in revenue would be made up by the extra traffic generated in places like our restaurants, which would not be affected by this tax exemption. If you agree, then let your legislators know that this is something that’s important to business and to those who patronize those businesses.
Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. is a Democrat representing District 22 in Warwick.
Related Slideshow: 25 Ways to Support Small Businesses in RI
Shop for Dad
39 Warren Ave, East Providence, RI
Not sure what to get dad for the holidays?
Go out together and be entertained at East Providence’s Comedy Connection where local and international acts like Norm MacDonald, DL Hughey, and Carlos Mencia are currently set to perform!
Shop for Mom
Queen of Hearts
222 Westminster St, Providence, R
Don’t know what to buy mom this year?
Head into Queen of Hearts on Westminster Street.
Their staff can help you choose the perfect gift for mom from their selection of apparel, jewelry and accessories that will keep her looking fashionable all season long!
Photo: Queen of Hearts
Shop for Someone Special
180 Pleasant View Ave, Smithfield, RI
Get that special person in your life a gift to remember this holiday.
AC Jewelers can create custom wedding bands, engagement rings and even has a selection of pre-owned Rolex’s and other fine jewelry to suit any taste.
Photo: AC Jewelers
Shop for a Difficult Buy
Emerging Energy Acupuncture
14 Imperial Place, Providence, RI
Do you have someone on your list that is very hard to buy a gift for?
Try giving them a different type of relaxing experience with Emerging Energy Acupuncture they offer acupuncture, massage, and herbology services to sooth the body and the mind.
Grab Some More Lunch
Luigi’s Restaurant & Gourmet Express
1357 Hartford Ave, Johnston, RI
In a rush? Luigi’s Restaurant & Gourmet Express offers authentic Italian Cuisine that is already prepared and ready to eat at your request!
Sit in or take your meal on the go.
Photo: Luigi's Restaurant and Gourmet Express
Even More Lunch!
Tong D Restaurant
156 County Rd, Barrington, RI
If you’ve got a hearty appetite and love Thai food try Tong D Restaurant for lunch during your shopping excursions.
Tong D has an amazing selection of spicy curry, savory rice, and delicious noodle dishes and even offers vegan selections.
Participate in and Event
Hope Street Celebration
Hope St., Providence, RI
The Hope Street Merchant’s Association will be hosting Eat! Shop! Play! all Small Business Saturday.
Enjoy local fare from food trucks, while you shop at their eclectic storefronts and enjoy discounts and special deals all Saturday! Don’t miss out!
Photo: Hope St. Merchant's Association
Get Ready for a Night Out
9 Pier Market Pl, Narragansett, RI
Spa Thayer will have a special on gift certificates: buy one gift certificate and get one 50% off any combination of services.
Don’t forget to book yourself and appointment this Saturday to freshen up after a long holiday weekend, and enjoy 10% off in spa credit.
Photo: Spa Thayer
Grab Yourself a Treat
21 Charles St., Wakefield, RI
Get some retail therapy at Sweenor’s Chocolates and take home a treat for yourself, and your loved ones - but mostly yourself.
Choose from their assorted boxed chocolates, fudges and sugar-free candies.
Photo: Sweenor's Chocolates
Improve Your Space
Mello’s Farm and Flowers Center
444 Boyds Ln.,Portsmouth, RI
Grab some fresh blooms this holiday from Mello’s Farm and Flowers Center.
The family owned and operated business also offers poinsettias, trees, and wreaths to decorate your home with this holiday.
Photo: Mello's Farm and Flowers Center
Second Time Around Sports
328 Atwood Ave - Cranston RI
Second Time Around Sports has plenty of new and gently used sports gear for the athlete in your family.
They also offer special deals on ski and snowboard goods in store - perfect for winter sports during their race to black Friday event which extends to November 27.
Grab a Drink
95 Eddy St, Providence, RI
The Eddy is one of the coolest places to grab a cocktail before you make your rounds for the weekend.
Enjoy a signature creation like their “Orange Julius Caesar”, “Solera Flare” or “Up All Night…” cocktails made fresh and don’t forget to grab a bar snack!
Photo: The Eddy
60 Dorrance St, Providence, RI
The Dorrance has an ever-changing cocktail menu and is just a stone’s throw away from other bars like G Pub, Circe, and Congress.
The Dorrance is the perfect spot to start the night right and grab some seriously tasty bar food like their Rhody Calamari, and Duck Confit and Pumpkin.
Photo: The Dorrance
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