Texans urged to shop online for tax-free emergency supplies

Emergency Supplies

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The yearly sales tax holiday on emergency supplies is to help people plan for those storms.

This year’s sale weekend will look a little different, as damaging storms have already started tearing through East Texas.

“A lot of the stuff on the list is stuff that’s been blowing out of here every day, especially with the storms we’ve had coming through,” said Gary Whitehorn, store manager of Bailey’s Ace Hardware in Gladewater. “People have been buying all kinds of stuff like that.”

At Whitehorn’s store, they’re preparing for this weekend’s tax-free sales holiday as best as they can.

“It’s hard because we’ve been so busy,” said Whitehorn. “People are buying anything and everything, including the stuff included in the tax-free weekend.”

While many things listed as emergency supplies may be sold out in stores, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is urging Texans to shop online for the tax-free supplies.

“As this pandemic continues to spread, I want to remind all Texans this sales tax holiday applies to qualifying items they purchase online, from the safety of their homes," said Hegar in a press release.

If you do go out to stores to purchase supplies, Hegar is urging the continued practice of social distancing.

“We have some plexiglass by the registers, to keep customers and cashiers away from one another, as best as we can,” said Whitehorn. “We have 6-foot marks taped on the floor, too.”

Whitehorn’s store is doing curbside pickup and taking a lot of phone calls, so they just ask customers to be patient if getting help takes a little longer than usual.

Whitehorn says the store does have some batteries, extension cords and generators in stock for the sales tax holiday this weekend.

From Hegar’s office:

As the nation continues to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is urging Texans to shop online or practice strict social distancing measures for in-store purchases during the sales tax holiday for emergency preparation supplies. The primary intent of the law that established this holiday, which begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 27, is to help Texans prepare for events like hurricanes and turbulent spring storms.

“Unfortunately, strong spring storms, wildfires and the upcoming hurricane season will still threaten Texans in the months ahead, and so it’s important that homes and businesses have the supplies they need to face these emergencies,” Hegar said. “As this pandemic continues to spread, I want to remind all Texans this sales tax holiday applies to qualifying items they purchase online, from the safety of their homes. If visiting your local retailer to purchase items, please practice appropriate social distancing as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

There's no limit on the number of qualifying items you can purchase. These include:

  • household batteries, fuel containers and flashlights priced at less than $75;
  • hurricane shutters and emergency ladders priced at less than $300; and
  • portable generators priced at less than $3,000.

For purchases made online, note that delivery, shipping, handling and transportation charges are part of the sales price. If the emergency preparation supply being purchased is taxable, the delivery charge is also taxable. Consider these charges when determining whether an emergency preparation supply can be purchased tax free during the holiday.

For example, if you purchase a rescue ladder for $299 with a $10 delivery charge, the total sales price is $309. Because the total sales price of the ladder is more than $300, tax is due on the $309 sales price.

Unfortunately, the list of tax-free items is established by law and does not include items such as masks or personal protection equipment.

Other purchases that do not qualify include:

  • batteries for automobiles, boats and other motorized vehicles;
  • camping stoves and camping supplies;
  • chainsaws;
  • plywood;
  • extension ladders and stepladders; and
  • tents.

A list of emergency preparation supplies that may be purchased tax free can be found on the Comptroller’s website.

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