It's the last weekend of May. You know what that means. Hurricane season is about to officially start.
Of course, Mother Nature doesn't follow the calendars of mere humans. She does what she wants when she wants. And so far this late spring, early summer of 2020, she's thrown a couple of tropical tantrums.
We've already had two named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha. Arthur threatened the North Carolina coast before heading out to sea. Bertha is now washing out as a tropical depression, dropping heavy rain over South Carolina.
Plan ahead for storms: But the Atlantic hurricane season, which includes storms in the Gulf of Mexico, runs until Nov. 30. So there likely will be many more tropical systems, and according to forecasters, between four and six major hurricanes this year.
As I already advised a couple of weeks ago when Arthur developed, the early start of hurricane season means now is the time to prepare.
And in the coming days, Florida residents, who could see many of the storms that might develop this year, are getting a tax incentive to get ready for the tropical season.
Florida storm-specific tax holiday: The Sunshine State's annual Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday starts today, May 29, and runs through Thursday, June 4.
Tax-exempt items during the state's sales tax holiday are broken out according to their costs. The Florida Department of Revenue has a PDF document listing all the items that can be purchases without tacking on the state's 6 percent sales tax.
Here are some highlights:
- Reusable ice that sells for $10 or less
- Portable self-powered light sources (flashlights for most of us) that cost $20 or less
- Fuel containers that sell for $25 or less
- Batteries, rechargeable or traditional (but not for vehicles or boats) that cost $30 or less
- Tarps, tie-down kits and plastic or other waterproof sheeting that sells for $50 or less
Keeping the lights on, food cold: The big hurricane preparation item is, of course, a portable generator. I can attest to how valuable these are after living six years in South Florida, including the horrible hurricane ravaged 2004.
You can pick up a generator sans sales tax during the holiday period if it's priced at $750 or less.
If you can't afford or don't want to shell out for a generator, you also get a sales tax break on nonelectrical coolers and ice chests in which you can store food that needs refrigeration. Those insulated containers cost that cost $30 or less qualify for the tax savings.
Again, check out the full tax-free list. It also has details on alternative purchase options like layaway and, if you want to avoid crowds since we're still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, online purchases and mail orders.
The main message is to stay safe, both now and during hurricane season.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Tax holidays are popular, but bad tax policy
- 6 shopping tips to maximize sales tax holiday savings
- Storm Warnings: A collection of blog post links on preparing for, recovering from and helping those dealing with major natural disasters