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Three states celebrate Memorial Day with sales tax holidays

The Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer. It also heralds the start of the summer-time state sales tax holidays.

While most of the tax-free events are later in the season to lure back-to-school shoppers, three states -- Louisiana, Texas and Virginia -- are holding no-sales-tax celebrations in connection with Memorial Day 2011.

Actually, Virginia is getting a head start. The Old Dominion's sales tax holiday begins today, Wednesday, May 25, and runs through Tuesday, May 31.

During Virginia's six-day sales tax holiday, a variety of hurricane preparedness supplies are exampt from the state's 4 percent state and 1 percent local sales taxes.

The tax exemptions apply to generators costing $1,000 or less and other hurricane supplies costing $60 or less.

Louisiana is also holding a hurricane-specific sales tax holiday. But the Pelican State's event is just two days, May 28 and 29.


During the two-day annual holiday, tax-free purchases are authorized on the first $1,500 of the sales price of each of certain storm prep items, such as flashlights, batteries (including ones for cell phones), radios, tarps, gas or diesel fuel tanks, food storage coolers, Blue Ice products and portable generators.

Local taxes, however, might still be charged. Local taxing jurisdictions have the option to waive their sales taxes or not.

Storm shutters also are tax free, but that's not just for the two-day holiday. Any "storm shutter device," defined as materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms, is exempt from Louisiana's state sales tax year-round.

Here in my home state, the Texas state sales tax of 6.25 percent and any local sales taxes won't be collected between May 28 and May 30 on purchases of certain energy efficient prodcuts.

Dubbed the Energy Star sales tax holiday, qualifying products include:

  • Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less
  • Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less
  • Ceiling fans
  • Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Programmable thermostats

There is no limit on the number of qualifying items that a single buyer can purchase during this sales tax holiday.

And delivery, shipping, handling or transportation charges connected to the qualifying Energy Star item also qualify for the Texas sales tax exemption.

Popular, but bad, tax policy: As I've noted before here on the ol' blog and in my other tax blog for Bankrate, I'm not a fan of sales tax holidays. It's not good tax policy, but simply a gimmick to get shoppers into stores in the hopes they'll buy a lot more than just tax-free items.

But I'm obviously in the minority.

These events are popular with consumers, businesses and politicians in good and bad economic times. That consensus means sales tax holidays aren't going anywhere.

So if you're a shopper and live in Texas, Virginia or Louisiana, enjoy saving a few tax dollars at your state's tax holiday event.

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