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Sales Tax Holidays for Hurricane-Prep (and Back-to-School) Supplies

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[Question]

I know that many states have sales tax holidays during the summer to pay for back-to-school supplies. I've heard that I may be able to get hurricane-preparation supplies tax-free during this time, too. How can I find out whether that's an option in my state?

[Answer]

Many states' sales tax holidays are in August and focus primarily on back-to-school supplies. But five states--Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia--have sales tax holidays for hurricane-preparation and emergency supplies, says Scott Drenkard, director of state projects for the Tax Foundation. The timing of these tax holidays and the items you can buy vary by state, and in four of the five states, the 2018 sales tax holiday for emergency-preparedness supplies has already taken place.

SEE ALSO: Guide to State Sales Tax Holidays, 2018

Virginia's sales tax holiday for emergency supplies is August 3-5. It exempts portable generators that cost $1,000 or less from sales taxes, as well as gas-powered chain saws that cost $350 or less, chain saw accessories that cost $60 or less, and other hurricane-preparedness items that cost $60 or less per item, such as batteries, flashlights, lanterns, battery-powered radios, weather band radios, plastic sheeting, bottled water, storm shutter devices, cell phone chargers and first aid kits. See the Virginia Department of Revenue page for a full list. Many school supplies, clothes and shoes are also tax-free that weekend, as are up to $2,500 in Energy Star and WaterSense products, such as qualified air conditioners, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and faucets. See the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday page for more information.

Alabama had its seventh annual severe-weather-preparedness sales tax holiday on February 23-25, which exempted portable generators costing up to $1,000 from sales taxes, as well as up to $60 per item for batteries, cell phone chargers, battery-powered radios and light sources, plywood, waterproof sheeting, and other emergency-preparedness items. See the Alabama Department of Revenue's factsheet for a list of eligible items. Alabama also has a sales tax holiday on July 20-22 for clothing and school supplies, as well as computers costing $750 or less.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims

Florida had a disaster-preparedness sales tax holiday June 1-7, including portable generators selling for $750 or less; radios, plastic sheeting, tarps and tie-down kits selling for $50 or less; batteries and coolers selling for $30 or less; fuel containers selling for $25 or less; and flashlights, lanterns and candles selling for $20 or less. For more information, see www.floridarevenue.com/disasterprep. Florida also has a sales tax holiday on August 3-5 for clothing and school supplies.

Louisiana reduced its sales tax rate from 5% to 3% for hurricane-preparedness items on May 26-27, including up to $1,500 for portable generators, eligible storm shutters, battery-powered light sources and radios, tarps and other items. See the Louisiana Department of Revenue website for a full list.

The Texas sales tax holiday was April 28-30. Sales taxes were waived for portable generators that cost less than $3,000; hurricane shutters and emergency ladders that cost less than $300; and batteries, fuel containers and flashlights that cost $75 or less. See the Texas Comptroller's Office site for more information. Texas also has a sales tax holiday for school supplies on August 10-12 and an annual Energy Star sales tax holiday in May for air conditioners with a sales price of $6,000 or less, refrigerators with a sales price of $2,000 or less, and clothes washers, dishwashers and other items. (For more information, see the 2019 Energy Star Sales Tax list.)

For more information about 2018 sales tax holidays, including those for emergency-preparedness items as well as sales tax holidays for back-to-school items, which are coming up in August in many states, see the Federation of Tax Administrators' list.

SEE ALSO: 23 Best Amazon Prime Benefits

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