A Discussion of Firearm-Related Taxes on Tax Day

by
posted on April 15, 2020
taxman.jpg

Once upon a time firearm enthusiasts legally hijacked tax money from federal bean-counters. You pay excise tax throughout the year with every cartridge and firearm purchase, and the Pittman-Robertson story is so familiar a copy is on your nightstand to handle insomnia. There’s more to the story, though.

Your dog-eared version likely ignores the Revenue Act of 1918, signed into law by then-President Woodrow Wilson on Feb. 24, 1919. It levied the first excise tax on firearms, part of a tardy effort to recover the cost of World War I. The better-recognized National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 followed. 

The Great Depression came and went, and the government continued collecting the 11-percent firearm and ammunition excise tax. Funds went into a general budget black hole until Carl Shoemaker—yet another name likely omitted from your bedtime version—came up with a scheme. The Oregon publisher and former Ohio attorney crafted language and began circulating it to legislators. 

Sen. Key Pittman (D-NV) and Rep. Absalom Willis Robertson (D-VA), sponsored the legislation and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act became law in 1937. Now money raised through that excise tax went to the Secretary of the Interior, who in turn distributed it to states for wildlife conservation work, education, a range or two and other projects.

In 1970, the Dingell-Hart Bill directed funds raised on a 10-percent excise tax on handguns to the Pittman-Robertson fund. In 1972, the Goodling-Moss Act added an 11-percent levy on archery equipment, with the money added to the coffers.

Since 1937, a total of $18.8 billion (in current dollar value) has been generated for wildlife conservation, habitat, ranges and education. Unfairly, wildlife conservation has reaped the lion’s share of the benefits, with ranges and education receiving a far smaller share of the revenue.

That changed last year when President Donald Trump signed the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act into law. It’s a dramatic improvement in the ability for each state to use the funds to establish and improve public shooting ranges—and the effects will be felt nationwide. 

Latest

riflescope facing right
riflescope facing right

First Look: Zeiss LRP S5 FFP Riflescope

Zeiss recently announced the launch of the new LRP S5 series of first-focal-plane riflescopes.

Review: Zev Technologies Core Duty Rifle

Zev Technologies has steadily increased its footprint in the firearm industry. Best known for placing its unique design spins on components for the most popular Glock and SIG Sauer pistols, this Centralia, WA-based company is also in the AR market.

First Look: Birchwood Casey 36-Inch Single Gun Case

Birchwood Casey is known for their targets and shooting support gear, and now they have just released a soft-padded case ideally suited for AR-15 and AK-pattern rifles, called the Single Gun Case 36 Inch.

I Carry: IWI Masada 9 mm Pistol in a KSG Armory Holster

In today's episode of "I Carry,"we have an IWI Masada 9 mm pistol with a Meprolight MicroRDS red-dot sight in a KSG Armory holster.

What is the Greatest Defensive Skill?

You can say what you want to about your favorite defensive school or those advanced-fighting techniques you learned, but the greatest defensive skill that a person can develop is simply awareness. I will freely admit that developing effective awareness is anything but simple, but being able to spot trouble before it is close enough to get in your face will certainly save you from a lot of trouble and possibly even some pain and grief.

Fightin' Iron: The Guns of George Mathews

Sometimes, custom gunsmiths don’t get credit where credit is due.

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.