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Texans get sales tax break with emergency supplies tax holiday

It’s spring here in Texas, which means storm season. We’ve already seen some recent storms drop large hail across the Lone Star State.

Plus, residents along Texas’ 367 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline have got to be a bit on edge with forecasters’ already warning of a hyperactive 2024 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1. Storm analysts at the University of Pennsylvania say we could see 33 named tropical storms this year.

So the timing of Texas’ annual emergency preparation supplies sales tax holiday couldn’t be better.

Weekend sales tax savings: Texas' special storm-related sales tax holiday begins this year at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 29.

There’s no limit on the number of qualifying items you can purchase. However, there are some dollar limits.

Here’s what you can load up on sales-tax-free this coming weekend listed by the products’ price.

Less than $3,000: Portable generators.

Less than $300: Emergency ladders and hurricane shutters.

Less than $75:

  • Axes and hatchets;
  • 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; 
  • 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; and 
  • Tarps and other plastic sheeting.

Several over-the-counter self-care items, such as antibacterial hand sanitizer, soap, spray, and wipes, are always exempt from sales tax if they are labeled with a “Drug Facts” panel in accordance with federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.

Still taxable: Then there are some items you might want to have on hand in an emergency, but which Texas tax officials say do not qualify for this coming weekend’s tax exemption status.

They include — 

  • Medical masks and face masks;
  • Cleaning supplies, such as disinfectants and bleach wipes;
  • Gloves, including leather, fabric, latex, and types used in healthcare;
  • Toilet paper;
  • Batteries for automobiles, boats, and other motorized vehicles;
  • Camping stoves and camping supplies, including tents;
  • Chainsaws;
  • Plywood;
  • Extension ladders and stepladders;
  • Repair or replacement parts for emergency preparation supplies; and
  • Services performed on, or related to, emergency preparation supplies.

No store visits needed: You say you’re not really an in-person shopper, even when it's for such vital purchases as emergency supplies? No worries.

You can still save some Texas tax dollars by buying eligible sales-tax-free emergency prep material online or by telephone. Also covered are mail and custom orders.

Make sure, though, that the sale of the qualifying item is completed during the April 27-29 tax holiday period.

The purchase date is easy to determine when the purchase is made in-store but becomes more complicated with remote purchases. The Texas Comptroller’s office notes that he buyer must have “given the consideration for the item,” also known as paid for it, during the tax-free weekend even if the item may not be delivered until after the period is over.

The tax office offers this example:

If a purchaser enters their credit card information in an online shopping website on Monday, April 29, 2024, at 5:00 purchase a qualifying generator, but the generator will not be shipped until Friday, May 3, 2024, and will not arrive until Tuesday, May 7, 2024, the purchase will still qualify for the exemption.

However, if the charge to credit card is declined by the payment processor at 11:00 p.m. on Monday, April 29, 2024, and the purchaser does not resubmit payment until Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the purchase is taxable.

Pay attention to price add-ons: You also might need to do some pre-purchase math to make sure your emergency item is tax free.

During the tax holiday, charges for delivery, shipping, handling, and transportation are considered part of the sales price. The additional amounts could push a product beyond it’s qualifying price limit.

For example, you purchase a rescue ladder for $299 with a $10 delivery charge, making the total sales come to $309. Because that amount is more than $300, tax is due on the full $309 sales price.

The Texas Comptroller’s website has additional information on the tax holiday.

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