This is why I hate ballot referenda
Financial advice from a new Tech grad

Memorial Day sales tax holidays

We got lucky this week in Central Texas. Temperatures have been seasonal, meaning we've had nights in the upper 50s and days in the low 80s.

Our suburban neighborhood always seems a bit cooler than the city's official thermometer readings, so the hubby and I were able for three days this week to turn off the air conditioning and make do, quite comfortably, with ceiling fans. One night I even had to pull out a light blanket to counter the cool air that filled the house through our open windows.

But that’s definitely changing. Soon we'll be in the heart, and heat, of summer. That means a string of triple-digit temperature days.

Such hot Lone Star State summers mean that air conditioners get a workout. And that means they conk out sooner rather than later.

Texas tax holiday: This long Memorial Day holiday weekend, the state is providing a tax break to Texans (and shoppers from neighboring states) who are considering replacing their dead or dying A/C units.

Energy star logo Texas' Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday kicks off at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.

During these three days, state and local sales and use taxes are waived on purchases of certain products bearing the Energy Star logo.

They include, listed alphabetically:

  • Room and central air conditioners priced under $6,000
  • Clothes washers
  • Ceiling fans
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers
  • Light bulbs, both incandescent and fluorescent
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Refrigerators costing less than $2,000

I know. You're wondering why clothes dryers aren't on the list.

The Texas Comptroller's office says it’s because most dryers use similar amounts of energy so Energy Star does not label clothes dryers. No Energy Star rating, no sales tax break. Sorry.

Plus, if you really want to be energy efficient – and irritate your homeowners’ association – hang your clothes out to dry in your backyard.

Don’t forget the federal credit: My fellow Texans (and visiting shoppers from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) also should check out the possibility of getting a federal break on top of their state sales-tax bargain.

The recently-enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Obama stimulus measure) reauthorized and enhanced the federal tax break for several energy-efficient home improvements. In the case of an A/C, you might be able to get a tax credit of up to $1,500 on your 2009 federal return.

Virginia's tax break for being prepared: Memorial Day also marks the start of a special sales tax holiday in Virginia.

The seven-day event (May 25-31) in the Old Dominion State offers no-tax purchases of certain hurricane preparedness equipment.

Among the eligible purchases are portable generators costing $1,000 or less and other storm-preparation items priced at $60 or less each. Virginia's Department of Taxation has posted a list of eligible items.

Personally, I try to avoid shopping, especially during high-traffic times such as holiday themed sales. But having lived through a couple of Florida hurricanes and a few more tropical storms, I know how important it is to be prepared.

So Virginia’s sales tax break makes hitting the stores next week to stock up in advance of the coming storm season a no-brainer.


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David Johnston

Will Freezers be on the list for 2010?

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