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Tax-free guns, appliances

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Friday, September 3, 2010
Posted: 10 am ET

Two more state sales tax holidays are now underway.

Louisiana's Second Amendment Tax Holiday begins today, Friday, Sept. 3, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 5. Although it was touted as a constitutional statement during last year's inaugural tax-free weekend, this year the state is positioning the event as simply three tax-saving shopping days for hunters.

In addition to the usual firearms and ammunition and traditional hunting and camping supplies that are tax-exempt this weekend, Louisiana shoppers also can get a sales tax break on the pruchase of off-road and all-terrain vehicles designed and intended primarily for hunting.

Don't try to slip another vehicle through. The state specifically states that taxes will continue to be collected this weekend on golf carts, go-carts, dirt bikes, mini-bikes, motorcycles, tractors and other motor vehicles which may be legally driven on Louisiana streets and highways.

And Louisiana tax officials say don't even think of trying to escape sales tax on heavy equipment, such as cranes, forklifts, backhoes and bulldozers. The fact that the state specifically noted this in its list of tax-free items makes me wonder who tried during last year's event to argue that a bulldozer was a legitimate piece of hunting equipment.

Meanwhile, shoppers in West Virginia have three months to buy sales tax-free energy-efficient home appliances. The Mountaineer State's Energy Star tax holiday started Sept. 1, and runs through Nov. 30.

The requirements to avoid sales taxes here are that the appliance be, as the holiday's name indicates, Energy Star-certified; that it be for persona, not business, use; and that it cost no more than $5,000.

Shipping and handling charges could affect an appliance's final price and therefore, its sales tax-free status. The West Virginia Department of Revenue has some examples of delivery-plus-purchase-price scenarios you should check out before you head to the store.

Do you make a special point to shop during tax holidays? Did purchases then really save you substantial money? Or are tax holidays, as some critics contend, just gimmicks and bad tax policy?

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