The Washington Post

Virginia grants sales-tax holiday for hurricane prep

When life hands you hurricanes, cut taxes.

Visitors play in the wind as Hurricane Irene passes through Virginia Beach, Va., in August 2011. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Between May 25 and 31, shoppers can stock up on storm supplies without having to pay the 5 percent state and local sales tax.

No, you can’t buy designer duds and expect to duck the tax. The break applies only to things like batteries, flashlights, bottled water, tarps, duct tape, cell-phone chargers, smoke detectors and first aid kits. They can’t cost more than $60 per item.

An exception to that price limit is made for portable generators and inverters, which qualify if they cost $1,000 or less.

See below for a full list of eligible products.

Virginia began offering the Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in 2008. The General Assembly voted this year to extend it through 2017. It is expected to cost the state $2.64 million in the current fiscal year.

The state also offers a sales-tax holiday for school supplies and clothing in August, and another for energy-efficient appliances and products in October. 

Below is a list of qualifying products from the Virginia Department of Taxation. The selling price must be $60 or less per item, unless they are portable generators or inverters.

• Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs and reusable ice

• Batteries (excluding automobile or boat batteries), including

o AAA cell

o AA cell

o C cell

o D cell

o 6 volt

o 9 volt

o Cell phone batteries

• Any portable self-powered light sources including

o Flashlights

o Lanterns

o Glow sticks

• Tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting

• Bungee cords, rope

• Ground anchor systems or tie down kits

• Ratchet straps

• Duct tape

• Carbon monoxide detectors

• Smoke detectors

• Fire extinguishers

• Gas or diesel fuel tanks or containers

• Water storage containers

• Nonelectric food storage coolers

• Bottled water

• Manual can openers

• Portable self-powered radios (including self-powered radios with electrical power capability)

• Two-way radios

• Weather band radios and NOAA weather radios

• Storm shutter devices

• Cell phone chargers

• First Aid Kits

This story has been updated.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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