Tech taxes back on the table
Astronomical alert

Pre-hurricane tax bargains

Florida always gets a jump on the sales-tax holiday season, which typically arrives each autumn. Unfortunately, the reason for the earlier-than-usual tax exemptions is not a particularly welcome one.

Hurricane_floyd_1999_3 Hurricane season begins this Friday, so Sunshine State officials are providing shoppers with a storm preparedness tax holiday from June 1 through June 12.

During that time, folks can pick up, sans sales taxes, items they might need to cope with hurricanes and their aftermath. Qualifying purchases range from artificial ice (those reusable packets that can be frozen) to ice chests to hold the real or fake stuff to flashlights to tarps to window protection materials to generators.

Full details on eligible products and price limitations can be found at the state's special Web page.

While shopping, keep in mind Not Made of Money's suggestions on what to purchase, even if it means you have to pay some sales tax. And I second the reader's comment to include, if you don't have one already, a first aid kit.

Having gone through a couple of 'canes and several tropical storms, I can attest to the amount of debris that can cause injury issues if, for example, you venture out to look at the damage in flip flops. Not that anyone would do something so crazy, but I'm just saying.

Ready for whatever: Although hurricanes have an official season, disasters can strike year round.

A tiny bit of good news is that when you have to deal with Mother Nature's wrath, the IRS might be able to help a bit, especially if your location is declared a major disaster area.

In those cases, you might be able to get quick cash to help with your recovery efforts by filing an amended 1040 and claiming the disaster losses on your previous year's return. In addition, the IRS often grants additional time to file returns and pay taxes.

Already this year, residents of South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico, whose homes and businesses were struck by tornadoes, and Texas and the Northeast, where flooding caused widespread damage, have qualified for special tax treatment.

This story has details on the tax treatment exceptions for disaster victims, as does this IRS Web page. also has a collection of articles on disaster preparedness, ranging from general guidelines to specifics on dealing with earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes and other severe weather.


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