Virginia Preps for Hurricane Supplies Tax Holiday

May 12, 2008

Prepared for the “Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday” in Virginia? From May 25 to May 31 only, sales tax will be waived on various hurricane preparedness equipment, and the Virginia Tax Commissioner has issued a 5,000-word advisory notice detailing every aspect of how retailers should do such sales during the holiday. (Title of the press release: “Prepare for the Hurricane Season by Shopping for Tax-Exempt Generators, Supplies,” just under “Tax Relief Granted for Victims of Tornadoes!“).

Advising people to prepare for hurricanes and gather necessary supplies is a good thing. But there’s probably a better way to do it than the administrative mess associated with blanket temporary tax holidays. Will a poor family that couldn’t afford an emergency generator now rush to buy one (within the allotted time period and after reviewing the list of eligible items)? Or will this tax holiday simply shift the purchases already being made, while enabling officials to appear in photo opportunities?

Virginia now has a school supplies holiday and a hurricane supplies holiday. That leaves 50 weeks left to fill with confusing and ultimately tiny tax reductions that nevertheless drive up the tax rate on everythign that’s not good enough to get a one-week-only exemption.

More on why sales tax holidays are poor tax policy here.

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