The Checkout

Another Sales Tax Holiday

Ylan Mui

Hurricane season starts June 1. Do you know where your glow sticks are?

Don't worry -- we can't find ours either. Enter the Virginia Department of Emergency Preparedness, which is offering a state sales tax holiday through Saturday on the equipment you need to weather this season's storms.

The holiday covers products costing less than $60 each, including: batteries, bungee cords, duct tape, portable self-powered radios, cell phone chargers, first aid kits -- and yes, glow sticks, flashlights, lanterns and other "self-powered light sources." Portable generators and certain power cables costing less than $1,000 are also included. The full printer-friendly list of covered items is available from the Virginia Department of Taxation.

According to the National Retail Federation, a trade group, Virginia is the first state to implement a sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness but others are likely to follow suit. Many states already lift the sales tax around Christmas and the back-to-school season to help give shoppers a break.

Growing up in the South, I went through my fair share of hurricanes and vividly recall checking flashlight and radio batteries and stocking up on water during hurricane warnings. Each time, we went through several wheels of duct tape to make large X's on the windows in my home. The logic was that if the windows cracked, the tape would keep the glass from shattering all over the house. But the more common scenario was that I spent the next several days trying to pick the tape off the windows with my fingernails.

That is, until Katrina hit my family's home in 2005. The duct tape didn't matter much then because entire windows and doors had been smashed. But I realized then that hurricane preparedness is no joke. Go get those glow sticks!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a normal or above-normal season this year in the Atlantic. That means a 60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including 6 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes (Category 3 or above). An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes for which two reach major status.

Another interesting but random tidbit from the NOAA site: The first named storm of 2008 will be called Arthur. Hopefully, we never have to meet him.

By Ylan Mui |  May 26, 2008; 7:46 AM ET Consumer Alerts , Consumer News , Consumer Tips , Ylan Mui
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Actually.. Virginia is not the first state to implement a hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday. Florida began doing so three years ago..but skipped it this year because of a shortfall in the budget.

Posted by: jlucfl | May 30, 2008 2:16 PM

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