Sales Tax Holidays: A Boondoggle

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Sales taxes are among the most important—and most unfair—taxes levied by state governments. Sales taxes accounted for a third of state taxes in 2011, but sales taxes are regressive, falling far more heavily on low- and middle- income taxpayers than on the wealthy. In recent years, lawmakers thinking they might lessen the impact of these taxes have enacted “sales tax holidays” that provide temporary sales tax breaks for purchases of clothing, computers, and other items. This policy brief looks at sales tax holidays as a tax reduction device.

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