Most residents of Florida realize that hurricanes are major tropical storms that can cause devastating waves, wind, flooding and rain. “Hurricane Season” runs from June 1st until November 30th in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting 8-13 tropical storms with between 3-6 hurricanes for the 2014 Hurricane season. The effects of a hurricane on your business can range from devastating to disruptive, even if you are not in the direct path, so it’s important to take steps to prepare.
While National Hurricane Preparedness Week ends on May 31, for Florida residents it’s the beginning of Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday from May 31 through June 8, 2014
During the holiday, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, 2014.
For business owners and consumers alike, you have the opportunity to stock up on emergency supplies tax free. However, if you sell any of the qualifying items you need to be aware of how to handle the tax exemptions with your customers. Some items, like certain batteries, flashlights and radios may seem obvious. However, items like coolers, generators, plastic sheeting, bungee cords and ratchet straps are also included. It is important to understand each item listed is subject to a maximum sales price. The qualifying items and the price threshold are spelled out in the following documents:
Take the time now to review your hurricane checklist and prepare your disaster kit. Check to see that your emergency supplies are in working condition. Test generators and equipment with battery backups replacing batteries where needed. Have extra fuel and batteries on hand and available.
Organize your finances and review your insurance coverage. Be sure that you will have access to documents that you will need in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have offsite or cloud copies and backups.
Make sure your customers can get what they need and you don’t lose a sale by reviewing your payments systems to be sure you can manually process transactions via cash or credit if the electricity, internet or phone is down. Have sales slips ready for your manual imprinter or order an imprinter emergency kit from your processor or companies like imprinters.com. Make sure you have all of the authorization numbers if you need to obtain an authorization by phone.
Review your communication plans making sure that cell phones will be readily available and charged. Be sure you have offsite or manual access to all of your important contacts you may need including employees, vendors and customers.
Planning for emergencies is paramount as we continue to rely more and more on technology. While new technology provides great benefits and conveniences to our businesses, it also leaves us with a greater responsibility to plan for its occasional and often untimely failure or inaccessibility.