by Mark Curtis ABC6 Chief Political Reporter
The sales tax war is on. Massachusetts proposed a tax cut from 6 and a quarter, to 4 and a half percent. Rhode Island is at 7 percent now, but the new bill ends the sales tax altogether.
State Senator David Bates, (R-RI) is sponsoring a bill to end the sales tax. Bates said, "I mean Massachusetts going to four and a half – if they do, which I am not sure they will – we really need to talk about our whole tax structure and this is a way to get it started."
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The bill was introduced by State Rep, Jan Malik, who owns this liquor store in Warren. Apparently he knows what he's talking about, saying his business is down 20 percent in the past 2 years."
So we did a little experiment. I bought a case of wine, that Malik's store discounts at 15 percent. But I did pay Rhode Island's 7 percent sales tax. Just up the road in Massachusetts, where there is no sales tax on liquor, I bought the very same case of wine, and saved almost 6 dollars.
Senator Bates said, "So we need to look at the whole tax code."
And it's not just booze. They are busy at Floral Symphony in Bristol for Valentines Day. The owner says dumping the sales tax would be a real plus.
Deb Metaxas, the floral shop owner said, "I think if the was no sales tax, especially on flowers or things that they want. I think they would purchase more."
But there are concerns. Bob Russo owns Furniture Clearance Centers in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He stands to gain from the tax war, but wonders who will pay for state government.
Russo said, "I mean if they are going to eliminate the sales tax, they have to raise taxes someplace else to pay, to make up for the difference."
Rhode Island's sales tax generates over 900 million dollar a year,