Good morning, early-rising Louisiana and Texas shoppers! I know all y'all are headed out to take first advantage of your states' special sales tax holidays this holiday weekend.
Both Louisiana's hurricane preparedness reduced-sales-tax event and Texas' no-sales-tax on certain Energy Star appliances and water-saving devices started at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 27.
The Pelican State's tax holiday, however, is shorter. Louisiana shoppers have only today and Sunday, May 28, to purchase tax-exempt items to help them through the coming 2017 hurricane season.
The Lone Star State's tax holiday continues through Memorial Day Monday, May 29.
Here are the highlights of both events.
Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday for Hurricane Preparedness
Louisiana has been facing budget issues, so instead of a total tax-free shopping holiday, the state is giving buyers a 2 percent reduction on specified hurricane preparedness items.
That means you'll pay only 3 percent state sales tax instead of the usual 5 percent, which covers the state's sales tax rate of 4.97 percent plus a 0.03 percent Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax.
This year's sales tax exemption applies to the first $1,500 of the purchase price of each of the following items:
- Any portable self-powered light source, including candles, flashlights and other articles of property designed to provide light;
- Any portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio;
- Any tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
- Any ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
- Any gas or diesel fuel tank;
- Any package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6 volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries;
- Any cell phone battery and any cell phone charger;
- Any nonelectric food storage cooler;
- Any portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage;
- Any storm shutter device;
- Any carbon monoxide detector; and
- Any "blue ice" product.
If you're tempted to blow off these tax savings, don't. The 2017 Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season officially starts June 1, but we've already had the first named storm of 2017. Tropical Storm Arlene popped up back in April.
Plus, as meteorologists always warn us, it doesn't matter if there's just one destructive storm if you're in that lone tropical system's path.
So get ready now and save some tax money while you're at it.
Texas Water-Efficient Products Tax Holiday
Texas, thank goodness, is no longer in a severe drought. Here in Central Taxes, our major lakes are full and in fact we're seeing periodic warnings about flash flooding.
But we all know Mother Nature can turn off the tap at any time. That's why Lone Star State officials established a tax-holiday for products that help conserve H2O. Today through Monday, May 29, Texans can buy certain water-efficient products, many designated with the WaterSense label, without paying any sales tax.
Qualifying tax-free water-efficient products, including flora, are those that conserve or retain groundwater; recharge water tables; or decrease ambient air temperature thereby limiting water evaporation.
Examples of sales-tax-free eligible items include:
- A soaker or drip-irrigation hose;
- A moisture control for a sprinkler or irrigation system;
- A rain barrel or an alternative rain and moisture collection system;
- A permeable ground cover surface that allows water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points;
- Plants, trees and grasses;
- Water-saving surfactants; and
- Soil and compost.
There is no limit on the number of qualifying items individual shoppers can purchase. Even contractors, landscapers or other service providers get a tax break here. These professionals can buy tax-free WaterSense products to keep in inventory.
Texas Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday
The bigger savings this long holiday weekend, however, for me and many of my Lone Star State neighbors likely will come from the tax holiday that allows us to replace our aging appliances with new, energy efficient ones.
Over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, the purchase or lease/renting of certain Energy Star certified products are free from state and local sales taxes. The eligible items include:
- Air conditioners with a sales price of $6,000 or less;
- Refrigerators with a sales price of $2,000 or less;
- Ceiling fans;
- Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs;
- Clothes washers;
- Dehumidifiers; and
- Programmable thermostats.
Where no price limit is noted, there's not one. So it's the perfect time to pick up that expensive ceiling fan or washing machine you've been wanting.
Add-ons could be costly: Pay attention, however, to added charges. They could affect a product's tax-free status.
Delivery, shipping, handling and transportation charges tacked on the seller are part of the item’s sales price. So are installation charges. If the item you buy is not taxable, then these charges are not taxable.
But they could add enough to push air conditioners and refrigerators over their respective tax-free caps.
For example, you buy an Energy Star refrigerator for $1,995 with a $50 delivery charge. That brings the icebox's total sales price to $2,045. And because the refrigerator's total sales price now is more than the $2,000 cap, sales tax is due on the entire $2,045 sales price.
Some things are still taxable: Also be a careful shopper. Just because an appliance has an Energy Star sticker on it doesn't necessarily mean that it's tax-free.
The Texas Comptroller's office lists the following examples of items that are taxable this holiday weekend even if they do carry the federal energy saving certification label:
- Water heaters;
- Clothes dryers;
- Attic fans;
- Heat pumps;
- Wine refrigerators;
- Kegerators; and
- Beverage chillers.
There are energy-efficient Kegerators? Who knew?
You also might find these items of interest:
- Storm Warnings disaster resources
- Springtime is energy tax saving time
- Form 4684, a disaster victim's best friend