Tax-free holiday provides savings

The exemption on sales taxes for select items, such as batteries, tarps, weather radios and portable generators, begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends Sunday at midnight.

About 250 counties and municipalities around the state, including Tuscaloosa County, Tuscaloosa and Northport, have joined in the tax holiday. For consumers in Tuscaloosa and Northport, that will mean savings of 9 percent (4 percent state, 2 percent in the two cities and 3 percent county) on the exempted merchandise.

“I am hopeful that this sales tax holiday will encourage families to think about their severe weather plans and make sure they have the items they need to weather any storm,” said state Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa.

Poole sponsored the legislation authorizing the Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday, which, after this year, will be held annually on the last full weekend in February. He introduced the measure in the 2012 legislative session in response to the devastating tornadoes that tore through Tuscaloosa and Alabama in April 2011.

“On April 27 of last year, we were given a vivid reminder of the need to be prepared for when severe weather strikes,” Poole said.

The legislation exempts sales taxes on any covered item costing up to $60, which includes most types of batteries, as well as a single purchase of any portable generator and power cords priced at $1,000 or less, provided the generator is intended to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage. Coin batteries and automobile and boat batteries are not exempt. Also, covered items have to be priced at or below the established threshold to be exempt. For example, if an item costs $75, sales tax would be due on the entire amount, not just the amount above $60, and generators that cost more than $1,000 would not be exempt.

Matthew Buszka, manager of Anders Hardware on 15th Street, said he expects high demand for many of the exempt items this weekend.

“Some of the first things to go might be batteries and flashlights, really any type of lighting devices goes off shelves quickly in a storm situation,” Buszka said.

Tarps are also good to have on hand, he said. “If you have a tree come through your house, you need it,” he said. “Last spring when the storms came through, the first thing to go for us was tarps.”

Buszka said the tax holiday is also an opportunity to save money on items that are covered but that can be used year-round, not just in the event of a disaster.

“I would definitely suggest buying a water cooler, because it is something that can be used right now, regardless of storm weather, and it is beneficial having no tax on them,” he said.

Batteries Plus on 15th street also carries many of the items qualifying for the sales tax exemption, store manager Nick Snead said.

“With the holiday we have double-stocked on just about everything,” Snead said. “We have lanterns that run off standard batteries, floodlights, water resistant lights, pretty much anything you may need during a storm.”

“I would suggest purchasing portable lanterns with LED lights, you don’t really have to worry about the bulbs going out with those,” he said.

Snead said he hopes the tax holiday will bring customers out to shop for weather preparedness items.

“The businesses here can always benefit from customers spending their money in Tuscaloosa, the whole city will benefit from this tax holiday,” Snead said.

Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, who sponsored the tax holiday legislation in the Senate, said he hopes it will prompt Alabamians to prepare for severe weather.

“As hot weather bears down on us and hurricane season is well under way, I urge folks across Alabama to use the sales tax exemption as an opportunity to prepare for storms that can come at a moment’s notice,” Reed said. “We all know too well that you can never be over-prepared for the wrath of violent weather.”

More Safety Info:

  1. Violent holiday weekend claims at least 10 lives in Chicago
  2. Video: Violent holiday weather in the forecast with Tornadoes starting in Kansas
  3. Click ‘n Dig! Key Finder Wireless RF Item Locator Remote Control, Pet, Wallet, Keyfinder. (Free Extra Batteries).


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