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Last call for hurricane tax holidays

Louisiana and Virginia residents, this coming weekend is your last chance to buy hurricane season supplies and avoid paying state and local sales taxes on the products.

The Old Dominion's seven-day tax-free event began on the Memorial Day weekend, but it's winding down this coming weekend.

To help shoppers know what's eligible during the Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, the Virginia Department of Taxation produced a video featuring Phil Mousepower.

Mousepower is a hand puppet originally created as the tax department's mascot to promote online filing. He's branched out since then, as in the tax holiday video.

While Mousepower might seem to be geared for a younger, more carefree demographic, his hurricane prep message is decidedly serious. And the state's tax break on storm-related items is just a bonus on purchases coastal residents should be making in advance of the 2009 storm season.

So, Virginians, stock up by 11:59 p.m. May 31 and escape paying sales taxes. You can find more info at the state's special Web page and list of eligible items.

Louisiana tax holiday, too: Meanwhile, along the Gulf Coast, Louisiana is holding its annual state sales tax holiday for certain hurricane-preparedness items or supplies that are purchased the last Saturday and Sunday in May.

That means the Pelican State's 2009 sales tax holiday dates are May 30 and 31.

Louisiana hurricane sales tax holiday (2)

During the two-day holiday, tax-free purchases are allowed for the first $1,500 spent on such things as self-powered lights (flashlights and candles), radios, tarps,batteries (including those for cell phones) and generators.

That's $1,500 per item. Not a total shopping bill o f$1,500.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue has put together an announcement with more details on eligible storm-related purchases.

Hurricane season 2009 outlook: The official hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Back in December, the annual prediction from forecasters in Fort Collins, Colo., -- yeah, I don't understand why guys in the Rocky Mountains are making calls on tropical systems either -- was that we should expect an above average 2009 season. It seems that's been the prediction for the last few years.

Thankfully, more data came in and things changed. The word now is that the season should be "near normal," with nine to 14 named storms.

That downgraded forecast is good for everyone. It also means that we should have plenty of cushion when it comes to storm monikers, starting with Ana and ending with Wanda, in the official 2009 Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm names list.

Full-price preparation: Even if you have to pay the sales tax, if you live in a potential strike zone, please go ahead and get ready now.

Yes, Floridians, I'm talking to you. For the second straight year, Sunshine State lawmakers have forgone the hurricane tax holiday in an effort to save some money.

You'll still need the supplies, though, if a storm or hurricane tears through your town. So don't be caught unprepared just because you had to pay a few extra dollars in taxes.


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