People can buy select emergency supplies tax-free this weekend, thanks to a state law that designates the weekend before the last Monday in April a sales tax holiday. 

The exemption applies to items purchased in person, online, via telephone or any other method, and there’s no limit to the number of items someone can buy. However, not all emergency supplies qualify, and only those under a specific dollar amount.  

The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, April 22 and ends at midnight on Monday, April 24.

David McCurdy, emergency management coordinator for Tarrant County, said emergency preparedness isn’t one-size-fits-all. 

“What do you need? Look at your personal environment,” he said. “What is it that you need for your well-being? And then start looking for things like that.”

For example, families with young children may need diapers in their emergency kit. People with chronic conditions may need medicine. 

At the very least, McCurdy recommends people keep nonperishable food, batteries, a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, battery-operated flashlight and possibly a portable radio on hand. The American Red Cross and KnoWhat2Do, a site by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, both offer helpful packing lists, he said.

Personally, he’ll be restocking his supply of batteries this weekend.

“When bad things happen — natural disasters, human-caused disasters — you need to be prepared to take care of yourself,” he said. “You could be on your own for 10 hours, 24 hours, 72 hours.”

Texas celebrates sales tax holidays throughout the year. After this weekend, the next one is May 27-29 and applies to select energy- and water-efficient products. 

Here’s what qualifies:

The entire cost, including shipping and handling, must fall within the price limits.

Less than $3,000

  • Portable generators

Less than $300

  • Emergency ladders
  • Hurricane shutters

Less than $75

  • Axes
  • Batteries, single or multipack (AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt or 9 volt)
  • Can openers, non-electric
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Coolers and ice chests for food storage, non-electric
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kits
  • Fuel containers
  • Ground anchor systems and tie-down kits
  • Hatchets
  • Ice products, reusable and artificial
  • Light sources, portable and self-powered, including battery-operated. Examples: Candles, flashlights and lanterns
  • Mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers
  • Radios, portable and self-powered, including battery-operated. Examples: Two-way radios, weather band radios
  • Smoke detectors
  • Tarps and other plastic sheeting

Some over-the-counter items, like antibacterial hand sanitizer and soap, are always exempt from sales tax if they’re labeled with a “Drug Facts” panel.

These items don’t qualify

  • Medical masks and face masks
  • Cleaning supplies, such as disinfectants and bleach wipes
  • Gloves, including leather, fabric, latex and types used in health care
  • Toilet paper
  • Batteries for automobiles, boats and other motorized vehicles
  • Camping stoves
  • Camping supplies
  • Chainsaws
  • Plywood
  • Extension ladders
  • Stepladders
  • Tents
  • Repair or replacement parts for emergency preparation supplies
  • Services performed on, or related to, emergency preparation supplies

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter.

Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

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Alexis AllisonHealth Reporter

Alexis Allison covers health for the Fort Worth Report. When she can, she'll slip in an illustration or two. Allison is a former high school English teacher and hopes her journalism is likewise educational....