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Taxes on Hurricane Supplies

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | May 30, 2014

hurricane-supplies-kit
Florida Residents Have 9 Tax-Free Days to Get Preparedness Supplies

Starting this Saturday and running through June 8, Florida residents can fill up their emergency preparedness kit with traditional hurricane-related supplies tax-free. The sales-tax holiday is the best time for you to replace anything missing from your kit or improve the protections you’ve already got in place.

Let’s get prepared for hurricane season.

People’s Trust presents you with this handy list of what’s covered in the tax holiday and some explanation on how to make sure what you put in your basket will meet the tax-free requirements determined by the State of Florida.

What Is Included?

The Florida Department of Revenue has published a complete list of items that will be exempt from sales tax during the holiday, with official hours of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Here’s a list of qualifying items directly from the DOR. Please note that some battery-powered or gas-powered light sources and portable self-powered radios qualify for the exemption even though they may have electrical cords.

Selling for $10 or less:

  • Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)

Selling for $20 or less:

  • Any portable self-powered light source
  • Battery-powered flashlights
  • Battery-powered lanterns
  • Gas-powered lanterns (including propane, kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel)
  • Tiki-type torches
  • Candles

Selling for $25 or less:

  • Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP gas and kerosene containers)

Selling for $30 or less:

  • Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and excluding automobile and boat batteries in the following sizes:
  • AA-cell
  • C-cell
  • D-cell
  • 6-volt
  • 9-volt
  • Coolers (nonelectrical)
  • Ice chests (nonelectrical)
  • Self-contained first-aid kit (already tax-exempt)

Selling for $50 or less:

  • Tarpaulins (tarps)
  • Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting
  • Ground anchor systems
  • Tie-down kits
  • Bungee cords
  • Ratchet straps
  • Radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
  • Two-way radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
  • Weather band radios (self-powered or battery-powered)

Selling for $750 or less:

  • Portable generators that will be used to provide light, communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage

Are There Sales Too?

Many stores are offering sales on these goods to help you get them at a tax-free price. Home Depot, for example, has said it will continue deals offered during previous years for savings on generators of up to 35%.

When you buy something on sale, the government will look at its final price to determine if you need to pay taxes. This means that if you buy an $800 generator but the store is offering a 10% discount, reducing the sales price to $720, then you won’t have to pay any sales tax because it is less than the $750 cap.

This also works with instant rebates offered by some stores. If you buy a pack of AA batteries priced at $35, but the store offers an instant rebate of $5 due to a promotion or deal, then the batteries will be exempt from sales tax because they are not more than $30.

However, manufacturer rebates and other savings that don’t come from the store itself won’t help you qualify for a tax-free purchase. This is because a coupon or rebate from the manufacturer doesn’t reduce the sales price of the goods – in terms of how taxes and tax law are written – it is merely a reimbursement of a certain amount that the store typically passes on to you.

For example, if you buy a $30 gas can and the manufacturer is offering a $5 rebate, you’ll pay $25. The gas can won’t be added to the sales-tax holiday because the retailer will still make $30 dollars off of the sale – $25 from you and $5 from the manufacturer. This means the total sales price is $30, making the gas can too expensive to qualify for an exemption.

What About Online Purchases?

Purchase you make through mail order catalogs and the Internet are exempt when you make the purchase during the holiday, even if the items are delivered after the tax holiday ends.

There are a couple special notes about these items:

  •  To qualify, the company must charge Florida sales tax. If they charge sales tax from another state or country, you will still have to pay that sales tax.
  • Shipping and handling are considered part of an item’s price. If shipping costs make your items’ cost rise higher than the cap listed above, they will not qualify.
  • Shipping and handling charges “must be fairly assigned to each item” if you buy multiple items and have them shipped together. This means you can’t buy a $749 generator and a $10 extension cord and then assign all of the shipping costs to the cord in order to get a tax-free generator.
  • Most, if not all, of the tax-free designation will be done by the catalog or online store, so it’s recommended you contact them with help determining when you will not have to pay the sales tax.

Staying Safe

People’s Trust recommends you should have a list of emergency alerts and active warnings that cover the hurricanes, storm surges and tornadoes that put Florida homeowners at risk. Every hurricane season comes with dangers, and People’s Trust wants you to be as prepared as possible.

Enjoy the tax-free holiday and please stay safe this hurricane season.

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