The 2018 tropical storm season has arrived a bit early.
Officially, the Atlantic (and Gulf of Mexico) hurricane season doesn't start each year until June 1. But the weather gods operate on their own schedules, so we often get early forming storms.
That's the current situation. A tropical system has developed off the eastern coast of Yucatan, Mexico, and is expected to move north, ruining the Memorial Day weekend for thousands of Gulf Coast residents and vacationers.
Depending on how strong the system becomes, which as I type isn't strong enough to get a name (it's still called Invest 90, which is fitting since it has a 90 percent chance of developing into a storm), it could even move inland into portions of the southeastern United States early next week.
UPDATE, May 25, 2018: The system has a name. It's Suptropical Storm Alberto. And its forecast to move into the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday, May 26. The National Hurricane Center warns that area could feel tropical storm conditions as soon as Sunday, May 27, morning.
Louisiana tax savings on supplies: This storm system should prompt Louisiana residents to nab some tax savings as they get ready for possible storms. The Pelican State is holding its annual Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 26, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 27.
During these two days, Louisiana residents get a 2 percent sales tax discount on flashlights, batteries, portable generators and other hurricane supplies. That means instead of paying the state's usual 5 percent sales tax on the eligible items, buyers will pay only 3 percent sales tax.
The sales tax reduction applies to the first $1,500 of the purchase price of each of any:
- Portable self-powered light source, including candles, flashlights and other articles of property designed to provide light;
- Portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio;
- Tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
- Ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
- Gas or diesel fuel tank;
- Package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6 volt or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries;
- Cell phone battery and any cell phone charger;
- Nonelectric food storage cooler;
- Portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage;
- Storm shutter device;
- Carbon monoxide detector; and
- Reusable freezer pack, such as "blue ice."
Note, however, that the sales tax reduction applies only to the state levy. The full amount of any local sales tax is in effect unless each local taxing authority creates its own exemption.
Also, Louisiana's full 5 percent sales tax will be collected on items, even if they're on the state-approved hurricane shopping list, if they are sold by vendors at airports, public lodging establishments (motels, hotels), entertainment complexes or convenience stores.
Texas tax holiday, two (two): The Lone Star State held its Texas already held its emergency preparedness tax holiday back in April.
This coming holiday weekend, however, shoppers get a second shot at sales tax breaks on water-saving and energy-efficient appliances.
From Saturday, May 26, through Monday, May 28, Texas families and businesses can save on the purchase of certain products during the state's combined Water-Efficient Products and Energy Star® sales tax holidays.
The water-saving component is particularly notable, because when calendars flipped to May 1, more than 60 percent of Texas was dealing with abnormally dry or drought conditions.
"Anyone who's lived through a Texas summer knows the strain triple-digit temperatures can put on power grids," Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. "These two holidays are a perfect time to save on state and local sales taxes while upgrading outdated water systems or inefficient appliances."
Hegar's office estimates shoppers will save about $10.7 million in state and local sales tax during the dual Memorial Day weekend sales tax holidays.
Water, energy and tax savings: This is the third year for the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday. Products displaying a WaterSense® label or logo can be purchased tax-free for personal or business use. These include showerheads, bathroom sink faucets and accessories, toilets, urinals and landscape irrigation controls.
The sales tax holiday also applies to lawn and garden products that help conserve water outdoors. Items qualifying for the exemption include soaker or drip-irrigation hoses; moisture controls for a sprinkler or irrigation system; mulch; and plants, trees and grasses. These items can be purchased tax-free for residential use only.
There's no limit to the number of water-efficient or water-conserving products you can purchase tax-free. The Texas Comptroller's office has details at its special Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday web page.
Appliances that qualify for the sales tax exemption during the concurrent Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday must bear the Energy Star logo and include air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less, refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and clothes washing machines.
As with the water tax holiday, the Comptroller's website also has a special online page with details on the Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday.
Here's to a safe and fun holiday for all and tax savings for Louisiana and Texas shoppers.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Pre-disaster inventory can be key to insurance, tax claims
- An active 2018 hurricane season could be complicated by new limits on casualty tax loss claims
- Storm Warnings: A collection of blog post links on preparing for, recovering from and helping those dealing with major natural disasters