As Florida and the East Coast brace for the second tropical storm to hit just six days into hurricane season, a review by Paratus Business News found that most states annually threatened by tropical weather offer no incentives for citizens to prepare.
Between insurance, property damage, business disruption and the loss of tourism revenue, tropical storms and hurricanes cost states and businesses billions of dollars every year. Yet, the real damage is the personal impact on millions of families.
Damaged homes (sometimes leading to homelessness), loss of food, transportation, and days or weeks without power costs families millions of dollars a year.
Instead of spending money on business investments and school tuition, families instead are forced to redirect their income and resources to recovery and replacement.
Given that more than 160 million Americans live close enough to hurricane zones to suffer damage from severe tropical weather, the loss to individual families is costly for the nation. When ice storms and tornadoes are taken into account, the number of families and states impacted is increased exponentially. According to one Accuweather report, winter storms alone annually cost the nation billions of dollars.
Unfortunately, while leaders in many states recognize the benefit of encouraging preparedness, most states simply prefer to roll the dice with their constituents’ lives.
How can states help citizens prepare for emergencies? One effective method is the state sales tax “holiday.”
Nearly all voters and government leaders support the use of state and federal tax laws to encourage positive behaviors that benefit society. Incentives that promote home ownership, business investments, charitable donations, among others, enjoy near universal support.
For most shoppers, state sales taxes range from less than 2 percent to more than 7 percent, but local option sales taxes can push the overall rate to 9 percent or higher in some areas.
The elimination of the sales tax for these days will raise awareness and drive consumers to plan for preparedness shopping. And while many (but not all) preparedness sales tax holidays have already taken place this year, it is not too late for the survival industry to plan for next year.
For instance, Virginia’s upcoming sales tax holiday in August includes products like chainsaws and duct tape, but not dehydrated food. This is a business opportunity.
Bloggers can certainly schedule posts offering advice and direction that can drive readership to their site. Retailers, of course, need find ways to compete with the state incentives, or complement them by offering products not covered.
These states offer sales tax incentives to encourage family emergency preparedness:
|Alabama||Feb. 26 – 28, 2016*||Severe weather preparation|
|Louisiana||May 28 – 29, 2016*||Hurricane preparation|
|Louisiana||Sept. 2 – 4, 2016*||Firearms, ammo, hunting supplies|
|Mississippi||Sept. 2 – 4, 2016*||Hunting season|
|Texas||April 23 – 25, 2016||Emergency preparation|
|Virginia||Aug. 5 – 7, 2016*||Hurricane preparation and school supplies|
* Annual sales tax holidays. Source: Sales Tax Institute.