Beginning Friday, June 1, retailers will be able to sell items without charging state or local taxes, which should drop prices considerably for items people need for the six-month hurricane season, which also starts today.
The tax-free “holiday” is three days longer this year, from June 1-7. One reason for the longer tax holiday is the weather. Florida had hurricane hits from Hurricane Hermine in 2016 and Irma in 2017, after more than a decade without any direct hits. “Now, after being hit by Irma and everything that happened last year, people are well aware of what they need and what they didn’t have last year,” said James Miller of the Florida Retail Federation. “They’re going to load up this year. We expect it to be very fruitful for retailers, and consumers are going to be able to save a lot of money on their end, as well.” For example, a $15 package of batteries won’t carry the usual 90 cents to $1.05 in sales taxes. A $750 generator, which would usually run more than $800 after taxes, will still be $750.
Take advantage of these savings and do your storm planning now. You will want to be self-sufficient for up to 72 hours. It’s smart to have non-perishable food items, batteries, flashlights and radios, as well as a first-aid kit and enough prescription medications to get through any storm. Many of us have experienced power outages during and after storms, so we all know it’s better to be prepared for an outage that could last from a few hours to a substantial amount of time.
Items Floridians can buy next week without paying sales taxes include:
- Portable self-powered light sources for $20 or less.
- Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, or weather band radios for $50 or less.
- Tarps or other waterproof sheeting for $50 or less.
- Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits for $50 or less.
- Gas or diesel fuel tanks for $25 or less.
- Packages of batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, at $30 or less.
- Coolers that cost $30 or less.
- Reusable ice packs that costs $10 or less.
- Portable generators that cost $750 or less.
Regarding generators, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute recommends customers do their research. Consider the types of items that need power, whether air-conditioners, refrigerators or just cell phones. Generators also have integrated fuel gauges to watch fuel levels, low-tone mufflers for less noise and even fold-down handles or wheels for easy transport. While generators should not be run under the same roof as the living space, in closed quarters or just outside open windows or doors, if you plan to use a generator, remember to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home as a precaution.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Because retailers want to capture as much of this audience as they can, look for big-box stores to roll out discounts. Make your list and prepare now, not hours before a storm when retail shelves are empty!