Well, I mean you could… but you’re not going to get the state sales tax break if you do.
Florida is in the midst of its annual Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Every year, around the beginning of June (the start of the hurricane season), we get a week of relief from the 6.5% levy we normally pay on life-sustaining supplies like cornmeal and gunpowder and ham hocks and guitar strings (or whatever it is we’re supposed to have during a hurricane). This year is no different… now through June 6 you can go to any store and buy your hurricane supplies tax free. But government’s gonna govern… so there are plenty of restrictions.
Batteries? Sure, as long as they’re an approved size. Lanterns? Under 20 bucks only. Coolers? Smart purchase, if they’re under $30… just don’t go buying an expensive Yeti-style cooler that will actually keep your stuff frozen longer than one day without power during a hurricane which regularly causes power outages that last longer than a week in 85 degree heat with no air conditioning. Oh. Sorry, I lost track of myself there for a moment.
But my favorite restriction is one of those “only in Florida” things. The Department of Revenue says that “the sales tax holiday does not apply to … sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport.” Sorry to say that you won’t be able to skip out on the taxes on that $8.00 pack of AA batteries you have to buy this week at Magic Kingdom because your Walkman runs out of juice midway through your mixtape. (If you were born in the 90s or later, please just trust me that that joke was very clever).
Now certainly this provision does make sense. The idea behind the holiday is to let residents prep for the hurricane season. And odds are most of us aren’t going to Tatooine Traders to buy our gas containers. Though I would argue you could probably get a pretty sweet Yeti cooler at Serka Zong Bazaar. Battery purchases inside the theme parks aren’t for prep… they’re for in-the-moment use. And in a state with no income tax, we admittedly rely on sales tax and toll roads and the like to help “share the load” with the influx of tourism that is so vital to our economy yet also contributes a lot to the need for state services such as transportation infrastructure.
If you’d like to see what’s included in the sales tax holiday, take a look at the official release from the Florida Department of Revenue below. And if you call Central Florida home, prepare! Get a plan, stock your pantry, and be ready to respond if a storm threatens.
Image credit: NOAA/CIRA