Ellen Cummings, Website Editor, Publishing and Media Services, Department of Revenue
Backyard barbecues, parades and fireworks — it wouldn't be the Fourth of July without them — and no celebration would be complete without an American flag, either. The neighborhood where I lived as a kid always had a block party on the Fourth. Admittedly, I was more interested in going to the fireworks with my friends, but seeing Old Glory flying in front of every house was always an impressive sight.
So, what exactly does celebrating America's birthday have to do with taxes? Well, under Massachusetts law, many goods are subject to a 5 percent sales tax, but there are a number of exemptions, too. One particular item exempt from the Massachusetts sales tax is — your guessed it — the US flag. (Check out our Guide to Sales and Use Tax to find out what other types of items are tax-exempt.)
Whether you’re buying a small flag for your grandkids at a parade, or a large one for your home, those flag purchases are tax-free. Remember, though, the exemption applies to US flags only and any red, white and blue decorations, buntings or American flag-themed paraphernalia are taxable. You also may have to pay the sales tax on a "flag kit" if the price of the flag is not separately stated from the price of the flag pole and other parts included in the kit.
Whatever your plans may be — have a happy and safe Independence Day!