Va. Vote Exempts Hurricane Safety Items from Sales Tax

Items used to prepare for a hurricane would be exempt from Virginia’s 5 percent sales tax during the last week of May each year under legislation that got final passage on Saturday.

Sales tax wouldn’t be collected on portable generators costing up to $1,000 and other hurricane preparedness items priced up to $60. They include carbon monoxide detectors, batteries, cell phone chargers, gas tanks, radios, tarps and other items to be determined by the state tax department.

Delegates unsuccessfully tried to add computers and computer accessories to the state’s school supply sales tax holiday the General Assembly passed in 2006. For three days every August, the sales tax is not collected on school supplies priced at up to $20 and clothing and shoes costing up to $100.

Like with the school supply sales tax holiday, retailers could decide to “absorb” the tax on nonqualifying purchases during the week in May. They still would have to pay the tax even if they don’t collect it from the customer.

The House voted 88-8 on Friday to accept the compromise; the Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill on Saturday.