Drugs, sightseeing tour tax goes into effect Saturday


Conway Tours is celebrating its 85th year in business in Rhode Island this year.

But a new sales tax on tour services which begins on Saturday has the general manager thinking about how close he is to the state line.

Massachusetts is three miles up the road from here. If I move to Massachusetts, I’m not paying Rhode Island tax,” said Dave Eaton of Conway Tours.

It’s not the amount of money that Eaton’s company will be paying under the newly-imposed 7 percent tax – he figures it won’t amount to much more than $1,000.

“It’s the administrative burden,” he said.

East Side Pharmacy in Providence can’t move to the Bay State, and its customers can’t realistically stop buying the over-the-counter medications that will also see a 7 percent sales tax starting Oct. 1.

“I don’t think you should tax their necessities, and I think my customers consider over-the-counter drugs as a necessity,” said Rich Backer of East Side Pharmacy.

Backer said he’ll have to re-catalog all of his medicines so the cash register calculates tax.

“Prescription taxtable, that’s a useless category now,” he said.

Rhode Island Tax Administrator David Sullivan is trying to make the change as smooth as possible.

“Obviously anytime there’s an expansion of taxes, it causes controversy. But we’re reaching out to businesses so they’ll be ready to go on Saturday,” he said.

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