Sales tax holiday:
Thanks, but I'd still rather see my income tax cut
© by Barbara Anderson
The Salem News
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I can prove that the gods like taxpayer activists: Three days before the
sales tax holiday, my refrigerator began to die.
So naturally I went comparison-shopping, found a replacement and made a
commitment to buy a new one on Saturday. Saved myself $31.
Of course, the downside of the holiday was having to wait to arrange
delivery. So as I write this, my old fridge is still in the kitchen,
moaning loud enough to wake the dead, and making me feel bad about not
ending its suffering immediately, not to mention mine and probably the
I should just be grateful that it is still keeping my ice cream and
yogurt cold. And I should be grateful to the Legislature for the sales
tax holiday, instead of thinking that $31 was not worth an extra week of
Another thing that was not worth the wait was the new portable
telephone. The old one had been hanging up mid-conversation on numerous
friends, as well as reporters who called after 5 during the last two
weeks when I was usually enjoying my hammock. But I did save $1.75 by
waiting til Aug. 11 to buy a new one!
Here is where merchants benefit from the holiday: While I was at Radio
Shack buying a phone, I impulse-bought a new radio-CD player. The boom
box that I'd inherited from my mother had a sliding station dial that
was hard to read, making it hard to quickly turn off RKO when I heard
Tom Finneran's voice. I can now push a button on my new remote and go to
Michael Graham on TKK until 10, when I can check back with 'RKO's Todd
Feinburg, then go easily back and forth until noon.
At noon I check to see what Braude and Eagan are doing, or who is
substituting for a vacationing Rush, while I wait for Howie Carr at 3.
This fall I hope I can hear Howie first thing in the morning as he moves
to TKK, in direct competition with the former speaker who killed the
voters' income-tax rollback. Finneran is OK on some national and
cultural issues, but his constant, touchy defense of the status quo in
Massachusetts politics - for which he is largely responsible - is more
than I can take.
This is another reason I'm not especially grateful to the Legislature
for the sales tax holiday: The state owes me hundreds of dollars because
I've had to pay a tax of 5.3 percent instead of 5 percent on my income
since 2002. A sales tax holiday, while aggravating in many ways, is the
least it can do to make things up to us.
So I saved $2.50 on the new radio, then $8.99 at Strawberries where I
bought two more "Serenity" DVDs (bought two during the last sales tax
holiday as Christmas gifts) and one used "Little Miss Sunshine" DVD,
which I could watch on HBO except we canceled it in outrage at "The
Sopranos" ending. (Boy, J.K. Rowling could teach David Chase a few
things about how to end a series, couldn't she?)
Friday night I had clipped newspaper coupons for non-food items so that
on Saturday I could stock up on bird food, various tissues,
moisturizers, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Saved over $8! Was so busy
shopping that I didn't have time to go home for lunch, so bought a quick
slice of pizza that cost me $2, thus cutting into my net savings.
I don't like to shop on Sunday on principle, but made an exception to
run to the hardware store for a new garden hose and to Whole Foods for
vitamins - which the pro-taxpayer gods arranged for me to run out of
last weekend! The state shouldn't be taxing vitamins anyhow.
I did get to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning for fruit. But
because I then rushed off to shop, I didn't put the expensive
raspberries into the screaming refrigerator, so they were covered with
fuzzy mold when I went to get them for Sunday breakfast, and I had to
throw most of them away. Another loss against my weekend savings.
Still have peaches to slice into the blender with ice cream, though,
which always makes me feel better about things like the hammock time I
missed while shopping. And at least I have a year's supply of laundry
detergent and batteries!
Of course when I got home with all the packages on Saturday afternoon, I
remembered why I never do major shopping on summer weekends: The boaters
are parked in front of my house, and I can't park there to unload my
packages. Had to haul everything across the yard and up the back stairs.
Bird food's still in the car.
By then I was too exhausted to make a decision about buying a new fish
tank on the holiday. My goldfish has grown to roughly the size of a
teenage trout, and while I am sure he is better off in my 20-gallon tank
than in the traditional fish bowl, he could use more room. I think I'll
apply my total $50 savings toward a 30-gallon tank.
Moby Fish: Say "thank you" to the Massachusetts government, or at least
flip it a fin.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.