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Tax-free shopping starts Memorial Day weekend in FL & TX


Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer across the United States. It's also a time for sales tax free shopping in two states.

Here in Texas, my neighbors and I get the long weekend to pick up some water and energy efficient appliances without owing the state's 6 percent and local sales taxes, which could afford up to another 2 percent in tax savings.

My friends and former neighbors in Florida also get a sales tax holiday this coming holiday weekend and longer. Last week, the Sunshine State's governor signed into law the state's 10-day-long 2021 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.

Here's an overview of the two no-tax events.

Texas' tax and water-saving purchases: This Memorial Day three-day weekend marks the sixth year for the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday.

During the tax holiday, which starts on Saturday, May 29, and runs through Monday, May 31, products displaying a WaterSense label or logo are tax free, regardless of whether you're buying them for personal or business use. These include showerheads, bathroom sink faucets and accessories, toilets, and urinals.

Texas shoppers also get a tax break on lawn and garden products that help conserve water. This includes soaker or drip-irrigation hoses; moisture controls for sprinkler or irrigation systems; mulch; and plants, trees, and grasses. Tax-free lawn items, however, are limited to personal, residential purchases.

However, whether for business or personal use, there is no limit to the number of water-efficient or water-conserving products you can purchase sans sales tax.

Added Texas energy and tax savings: For cleaning up after you install your own tax-free, water-saving lawn items, consider buying an energy efficient clothes washer. That's just one of the appliances on the state's Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday list.

Other tax-free eligible products displaying the Energy Star logo include air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less; refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less; and ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and clothes washers.

You can find more on the water-saving tax breaks at the Texas Comptroller's special Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday site. The Comptroller's special ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday page has details on the tax-free appliances.

Florida storm prep tax savings: The Sunshine State's week-long no-tax event comes just in time for the official start of the annual tropical storm season.

The savings of Florida's general 6 percent sales tax rate (plus discretionary sales surtax rates ranging from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent) begins Friday, May 28, and runs through Sunday, June 6.

Florida 2021 disaster prep sales tax holiday week

As anyone who's gone through a hurricane or tropical storm knows, there is a wide variety of items that help can help make the disaster at least a bit more tolerable. They range from flashlights and batteries to food storage coolers to generators.

Those are among the tax-free items featured in the upcoming tax holiday, based on their retail cost as noted below:

Selling for $20 or less — Reusable ice (ice packs)

Selling for $40 or less — Any portable self-powered light source, such as flashlights, lanterns and candles. Florida's Department of Revenue notes that self-powered means operated by battery, solar, hand-crank or gas. Also, eligible light sources qualify for the exemption even if electrical cords are included.

Selling for $50 or less — Two-way and weather band radios that are powered by battery, solar, or hand-crank. As with light sources, radios qualify for the exemption even if electrical cords are included. Also qualifying in this price range are any gas or diesel fuel container, including LP gas and kerosene containers, as well as batteries, including rechargeable batteries, in sizes AA, AAA, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt. Automobile and boat batteries, however, are NOT tax-free.

Selling for $60 or less — Non-electrical coolers and ice chests for food storage, as well as portable power banks.

Selling for $100 or less — Tarpaulins (tarps); Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths and other flexible waterproof sheeting; and ground anchor systems, tie-down kits, Bungee cords and ratchet straps.

Selling for $1,000 or less — Portable generators used to provide light or communications or to preserve food in the event of a power outage.

The state has issued a special frequently asked questions PDF document for shoppers with more details on the tax holiday and exempt items.

Note, too, that while you might be able to pick up some of these products at one of Florida's many entertainment outlets, the upcoming sales tax holiday does not apply to purchases made in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport.

Now's the time for tax savings and more: Here in Texas, we're about to enter our annual summer drought season. This coming weekend's tax holiday offers a way to save on some water-efficient items that could help you make it through the drier months. The appliances are just a tax-saving bonus.

As for Florida, which the hubby and I got the heck out of after the state was struck by four hurricanes in 2004 (we were in the landfall zone for two of them), it's always good to be ready 'canes.

True, the Sunshine State has been relatively lucky of late when it comes to tropical systems. But you never know when Mother Nature might decide it's time. And all it takes is one storm.

So the upcoming 10-day sales-tax holiday is a good time to stock up, just in case the state's luck doesn't last this hurricane season.

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