Hurricane preparedness items tax-free

Published 10:04 pm Monday, May 23, 2011

Taylor’s Do-it Center store manager George Wolf prepares for an upcoming sales tax holiday on storm-related items on May 25-31. Items such as tape, flashlights and batteries are tax exempt to help people get ready for hurricane season.

As communities continue to cope with the effects of storms that tore through the state in April, Virginians are beginning to gear up for hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Shoppers in the state won’t pay sales tax on supplies needed to prepare for the weather this week. Flashlights, batteries, bottled water and other storm-related items will be tax-free May 25-30.

In general, storm supplies costing $60 or less and generators costing $1,000 or less will be tax-free, but food items are not included.

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George Wolf, store manager for Taylor’s Do-it Center on Bridge Road, said this is an opportunity for customers to save money while stocking up on preparedness items.

“With the hurricane season coming, it allows the customers to think twice and prepare,” he said. “They can go through their closets and see if they have flashlights, batteries and tape to keep their windows from shattering.”

Wolf said when a storm hits the area, often times people scramble to the hardware stores to pick up supplies. However, with the tax holiday, people can come get what they need before the damage is done.

North Main Street Lowe’s store manager Curtis Pierce also said he suggests people buy things now to prepare.

“I’ve got plenty of everything now and a lot more stuff on the way,” he said. “We just encourage everybody to stock up prior to the storms coming.”

Pierce said the store will have displays, featuring a sampling of storm-related products, up front during the tax-free period.

Any items that aren’t on the displays but are still tax-free will be marked with bright signs.

“We’re trying to make it easy for customers to shop,” he said.

In conjunction with the tax-free holiday, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared May 22-28 Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management suggests every household have an emergency kit that includes at least three days’ worth of bottled water and non-perishable food; a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, batteries and a written emergency plan.

Lowe’s also will have hurricane preparedness guides that include lists of what to buy and other tips for being ready for the season.

Pierce said some items are tax-free that people might not remember to pick up, such as tarps, first aid kits and fire extinguishers.

“Most people think about batteries and flashlights, but there are other selected items people need to look out for,” he said.

Pierce suggests people pick up hand-crank portable radios to use during electrical outages.

“In case the power goes out, you can still crank it, and it’ll work,” he said.

Pierce added batteries and generators are the first things the store usually sells out of when a storm hits, so people should buy those things now.

Wolf said people should be sure to pick up tarps or plastic sheeting to use in the event of roof damage. To go along with the tarps, bungee cords and rope will be tax-free.

The following items that cost $60 or less are tax-free: artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice; batteries including AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, 9-volt and cell phone batteries; any portable, self-powered; light sources, including flashlights, lanterns or glow sticks; portable, self-powered radios; two-radios; weather band radios and NOAA weather radios; tarps, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths and other flexible waterproof sheeting; bungee cords and 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; non-electric food storage coolers; bottled water; manual can openers; storm shutter devices; cell phone chargers; first aid kits. In addition, portable generators and generator power cords, inverters and invert power cables that cost $1,000 or less are tax-free.

For more information, visit and click the sales tax holiday link at the top of the page.