Hurricane season starts this Saturday, June 1. What will you do to prepare? Will you wait until a storm is looming before making necessary purchases, or will you buy some of it ahead of time? Florida will have a “Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday” from May 31 until June 6. The state does this to try to encourage residents to buy some needed supplies before the inevitable rush that occurs right before a storm hits the state.
Only selected items, up to a certain price, will be exempt from sales tax. Light sources like candles, flashlights and lanterns will be tax exempt if the sale price is $20 or less. Any gas, diesel, or propane container selling for $25 or less will qualify. Large packages of AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt or 9-volt batteries, selling for $30 or less, will qualify. Coolers and ice chests that are non-electrical and cost $30 or less will also be tax-free. There are several hardware items that could be purchased tax-free if under $50. The most expensive item you could buy tax-free during the holiday is a portable generator, if you can find one that sells for under $750.
Another good thing to stock up on before hurricane season is canned food. You don’t have to wait until the sales tax holiday to purchase as many cans as you want tax free. I remember coming home one evening in Miami when a storm was approaching and feeling like I needed a few more cans in the pantry. The grocery stores were already sold out of every can except for maybe a few anchovies. Standing in a long line at a gas station, to buy some over-priced cans of food, will make you never want to be in that situation again.
If you end up not using all of the food or batteries you purchased, you can always donate these items to help the less fortunate in our area. These items could also be donated to whichever location ends up being hit by a storm this year. This hurricane season is supposed to be “near normal” according to the federal forecasters who are paid to prognosticate such things. It is almost certain somewhere in the United States will be affected by a storm. If we are lucky, Florida will be spared this year.
Few places could use a sales tax holiday for preparedness items more than the counties just a short drive west of us that were affected by Hurricane Michael. There are still many structures in that area that have not been repaired. Just thinking about what a strong storm like that can do is enough to make me want to buy a few of every item on the tax-free list. Someone will certainly need those items before Nov. 30, 2019.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at email@example.com.