State sales tax holiday exempts weather preparedness items

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emergency preparedness

In the wake of tornado warnings and watches that have flashed across the state map over the past few weeks, Alabamians in several municipalities will have a little financial help this weekend readying for future weather emergencies.

Alabama’s fifth severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday kicked off early Friday and will continue through Sunday, ending at midnight. The holiday exempts state sales tax and local sales tax at businesses in participating municipalities on certain severe weather preparedness supplies.

Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency in Alabama on Tuesday when five confirmed tornadoes occurred in Alabama.

“State officials purposely designed Alabama’s weather preparedness tax holiday, which always falls on the last full weekend of February, to occur before the height of both tornado and hurricane seasons,” said Nancy King Dennis, director of public relations for the Alabama Retail Association.

While all state tax is exempt, individual municipalities and counties have the option to waive local tax.

The tax-exempt status applies to a specified list of supplies costing less than $60 that would be helpful for a home or business to have on hand during a weather emergency, including batteries, tarps, weather radios and more. Also, any portable generator or power cords that cost $1,000 or less in a single purchase are included.

“The goal of Alabama’s fifth annual severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday is to encourage consumers to stock up on emergency supplies before the storm hits,” Dennis said. “Consumers tend to wait until after the fact to get the supplies needed, which can put them in harm’s way if they venture out in hazardous conditions.”

Dennis added that the holiday encourages consumers to build emergency kits for homes, vehicles and businesses in advance.

“The sales tax holiday provides a good time to do that and save money,” she said.

In Auburn, Cindy Salter, manager of Ace Hardware on East University Drive, said that she does notice that certain items typically get more attention on the holiday weekend.

“We don’t see a higher traffic flow of customers, but we do have a higher traffic flow of particular products,” she said, adding that batteries, flashlights, tarps and ropes tend to be popular.

Salter said she thinks the holiday is a good incentive to check on one’s emergency preparedness items.

“Because number one, it’s tax-free,” she said. “That’s always a big help. And also because it makes them aware of the necessities that they need during severe weather, and it gives them an opportunity to stock up on them.”

In Opelika, Dozier Smith T, owner of Winston Smith T Building Supply, said people often seem to wait until after there is a weather emergency to act.

“It’s always good to be prepared,” Smith T said. “A lot of times, you don’t know when an emergency’s going to happen, there’s a run on things, and you might end up not having it.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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