• Jon Hurst. (Patrick Whittemore file photo)

  • ‘CHANGE LAWS’: Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst, above, is planning to file a ballot initiative to lower the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

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The state’s largest retail trade association plans to appeal directly to Massachusetts voters in November 2018 to lower the state sales tax and possibly establish a permanent sales tax holiday.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts plans to file state ballot initiatives to cut the current 6.25 percent state sales tax rate to 4.5 percent or 5 percent. It also may include language asking voters to approve an annual two-day sales tax holiday each August.

The initiatives are aimed at helping the trade group’s small business members in absence of state legislative action to remedy what it calls economic inequity and bad tax policy. “We keep explaining to them the problems, and there has been no action,” the group’s president, Jon Hurst, said.

The 2009 increase in the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent has proved “very, very damaging,” according to Hurst.

“The combination of that increase (with) what’s going on with … consumers moving to mobile commerce, and the majority of those sellers not collecting the states sales tax — we have a real problem here that we need to have both our state policy leaders and consumers understand,” he said. “The majority of our online competitors enjoy a 365-day- a-year sales tax holiday. They pay no state sales taxes.”

The state collected more than $6.2 billion in sales taxes in the fiscal year that ended June 30, a 2.6 jump from the prior year.

The retail association plans to file four ballot initiatives with the state attorney general’s office today and likely will decide on a single one in the next six weeks to put before voters in 2018 after talking with its members, business groups and others.

It’s the first time the trade group has filed a ballot initiative since 1994, when it successfully pushed for a further overhaul of the state’s Blue Laws to allow retailers to open Sunday mornings.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Hurst said. “It’s a difficult, costly process. It’s a process we’d prefer to avoid. We would rather work with the Legislature.”

Beacon Hill lawmakers review all ballot initiatives from January to June, and have the opportunity to pass legislation if they choose, he noted.

The Legislature has adjourned for the summer without voting on a state sales tax holiday, leaving consumers without a reprieve from the 6.25 percent tax for the second straight year. The Senate did appoint a 13-member retail task force to report by Jan. 1 on challenges faced by local retailers and actions by state and local governments to encourage brick-and-mortar sales.

But, Hurst said, “We need more now than to have task forces. We need to change laws.”