Flashlights, gasoline cans, weather radios and plastic tarps are among the storm preparedness items that will be available tax-free as hurricane season begins.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has signed a bill into law making certain hurricane and severe weather preparedness items tax-exempt from June 1 — the first day of hurricane season — through June 12.
“The smart thing to do is just be ready for it, go out and make the kind of purchases that make you more safe and your family more safe, and so I appreciate the sponsors’ hard work and the common sense nature of this kind of legislation,” Crist said. “It is just the right thing to do.”
Hardware store employees wearing orange Home Depot aprons and red Lowe’s vests joined representatives of the Publix and Winn Dixie groceries for the signing ceremony in the Capitol’s Cabinet room. The retailers are publicizing the tax holiday that helps keep stores filled with customers.
Citizens have a civic duty to prepare for storms by stocking up on supplies and developing emergency plans, said Craig Fugate, director of the state Division of Emergency Management. Help with such planning is available on the agency’s Web site, www.FloridaDisaster.org.
Emergency responders may be diverted from helping Florida’s neediest citizens if they have to come to the aid of people who are fiscally and physically able to prepare but failed to do so, he said.
The tax-exempt items include radios with “specific area message encoding,” a provision aimed at boosting readiness for tornadoes. The idea arose in the wake of deadly tornadoes that hit central Florida on Feb. 2. Hurricanes also are notorious for spinning off tornadoes, often many miles from landfall.
The items covered by the tax break include flashlights up to $20, weather radios up to $75, tarps under $50, gas cans or tanks, batteries, cell phone chargers, coolers and generators up to $1,000.
This is the third consecutive year for the tax break on hurricane supplies. State economists have estimated the bill would cost the state about $20 million in lost revenue.
Associated Press writer David Royse contributed to this report.
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