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Texas sales tax holiday encourages emergency preparedness

Large hail by woodleywonderworks Flickr CC
Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr CC

We got a little bit of rain last night as a cool front moved through Central Texas. Other parts of my native state, however, were pummeled by large hail.

It's not the first damaging weather to hit Texas this spring and it definitely won't be the last, as the annual storm season begins to ramp up in the next few weeks.

Starting this weekend, however, Lone Star State residents get some tax help in getting ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw out way.

Certain storm preparation supplies will be tax free as the first of Texas' three annual sales tax holidays kicks off at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 28. It runs through midnight on Monday, April 30.

Emergency tax savings: During these three days, shoppers can purchase certain emergency preparation supplies without paying the state's 6.25 sales tax or any local levies that usually are collected.

While there are price caps on certain products during the 2018 Emergency Preparation Supplies Sales Tax Holiday, there is no limit on the number of qualifying items you can purchase during the three-day event.

Texas emergency preparedness sales tax holiday 2018 poster

The items that qualify for tax-free status, broken out by the applicable price caps, include:

Less than $3,000 spent on portable generators

Less than $300 spent on emergency ladders and hurricane shutters

Less than $75 spent on:

  • Axes
  • Batteries, single or multipack (AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt or 9 volt)
  • Can openers (nonelectric)
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Coolers and ice chests for food storage (nonelectric)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kits
  • Fuel containers
  • Ground anchor systems and tie-down kits
  • Hatchets
  • Ice products, reusable and artificial
  • Light sources, portable self-powered, including battery operated, such as candles, flashlights and lanterns
  • Mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers
  • Radios, portable self-powered, including battery operated, such as two-way and weather band radios
  • Smoke detectors
  • Tarps and other plastic sheeting

Other possible tax savings: Delivery, shipping, handling and transportation charges are part of the sales tax-free price.

But pay close attention to how such ancillary charges could affect your item's tax-free status.

If, for example, you buy a $2,925 generator and take it home in the back of your pick-up truck, you won't owe any tax.

But pay $100 to have the generator delivered because it won't fit in your Chevy Malibu's trunk, then the total $3,025 price is taxable. If you can negotiate the delivery price down to $70, your $2,995 generator remains tax free.

Not every emergency item qualifies: And some items that definitely could help in coping with a disaster's aftermath do not qualify for tax exemption over the coming long weekend.

Items that still will be taxed April 28 through April 30 include:

  • Batteries for automobiles, boats and other motorized vehicles
  • Camping stoves
  • Camping supplies
  • Chainsaws
  • Plywood
  • Extension ladders
  • Stepladders
  • Tents
  • Repair or replacement parts for emergency preparation supplies
  • Services performed on, or related to, emergency preparation supplies

More emergency prep holidays on the way: Texas' emergency preparedness sales tax holiday is the second of the year.

Alabama got the storm-related sales tax holiday season started back in late February.

Louisiana, which has dealt with its share of devastating storms, will hold its hurricane preparedness tax holiday on part of the Memorial Day weekend, May 27-28.

Virginia's hurricane tax holiday is now incorporated into the state's overall back-to-school, energy efficient appliances and clothing tax-free weekend on Aug. 3-5. That's about a month before the Atlantic hurricane season hits its traditional activity peak.

Get ready, with or without tax breaks: And while we're still more than a month away from official start of the 2018 hurricane season, Mother Nature works of her own calendar.

Storms have been known to form early. That's why folks, especially those in coastal areas, need to prepare early.

Early hurricane formations_The Weather Channel
Screen shot from The Weather Channel report. You can read my earlier posts on Ana, Alberto, Alex, Arlene and Bonnie.

When any natural disaster — hurricane, tornado, severe winter weather — approaches, retailers often sell out of emergency items. So that you're not left in a bind following a weather catastrophe, get your supplies before there's a threat.

So prepare well in advance. If you can do so and pocket some tax savings, great. But even at full, taxable price, you'll be glad you had what you need if disaster strikes.

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