During the last week of May (May 25 – May 31), Virginia retailers may not charge sales tax on designated hurricane/emergency preparedness items:
Up to $1000 each: generators, solar panels, wind turbines, and inverters
Up to $60 each: two way radios (this would appear to include ham, FRS/GMRS, and CB), portable self powered radios, weather radios, batteries (including AAA,AA,C,D,9V,lantern, and cell phone but excluding car or boat), flashlights, lanterns, and glow sticks,, coolers and ice packs, fire extinguishers, smoke/fire/carbon monoxide detectors, cell phone chargers, first aid kits, ground anchor systems, empty fuel tanks (including gasoline, diesel and propane), water tanks/containers, duct tape, rope, ratchet straps, bungee cords, can openers, tarps, plastic sheeting, storm shutters, and bottled water.
(More below the fold)
Internet/mail orders qualify and you don’t pay sales tax when you buy or when you file your state income tax return. Coupons and discounts count against sales price threshold but not rebates or two for the price of one offers.
This would include some inexpensive ham gear (under $60) such as UV-3R Mk II or UV-5R HTs, ropes and anchors for temporary towers, eneloops (low self discharge NiMH batteries). Radio batteries are a grey area. Antennas, cables, microphones, keys, and other radio accessories are not mentioned; they would appear to be included only if bundled with the radio (pay attention to different bundle combinations at 409shop).
Eton FR-370 NiMH/alkaline/crank/solar/AC/DC/USB powered AM/FM/NOAA/SAME radio/flashlight would qualify if you get a good price (online, amazon) . One of only two crank/solar models with S.A.M.E. – the other is the more expensive Oregon scientific WR-203). And, yes, it really runs off usb power (it has both mini-USB and 5V barrel connectors) as well as having a usb power output to run cell phones, etc., and it has built in NiMH battery and a compartment for AAA batteries.
Solar panels or solar generators are covered as “generators” but charge controllers and other accessories purchased as separate items probably aren’t.
Canadian Solar 255 Watt 24V CS6P-255M Solar Panel $250 qty 1 ($0.98/watt):
Compatible MPPT Charge controllers: http://www.bzproducts.net/
Beware that you pay much more (3 to 16 times as much) per watt for solar panels under about 160W, ones which are 12V instead of 24V, or for ones which roll or fold up.