We’ll go over this again because lots of gun owners aren’t aware of it. Since 1937, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, anyone buying a new firearm or ammunition pays a 10 or 11% federal excise tax. That’s totaled more than $12 billion over the years.
Those dollars are distributed to the states and are used for conservation, to fund hunter education programs, maintain public shooting ranges and more.
Along with the number of NICS checks, those tax numbers are a good barometer of the general trend in gun sales. A couple of numbers to note: 2018 fourth quarter taxes were down almost 8% over the fourth quarter of ’17. On an annualized basis, the 2018 tax total was 2.4% less than 2017.
Looking at the larger picture, you almost have to disregard the panic buying years of 2013 (the post-Sandy Hook gun control push) and 2016 (Hillary a shoe-in election year). Those aberrations aside, while 2018 was down, it was still a very healthy year for gun sales historically (see the 20-year annual chart below).
Look at the 2012 to 2018 tax (sales) numbers vs. the previous decade and you see the effects of the expansion of concealed carry permits and constitutional carry as well as the work of the greatest gun salesman in American history.
Here’s the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s report . . .
Following are the results of the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) collections report for the 4th Quarter Calendar Year 2018. These figures cover the period of October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
Tax Collections Taxpayers Pistols and Revolvers: $48,454,145.58 163 Firearms (Other) / Long guns: $51,072,698.56 239 Ammunition (shells & cartridges): $47,923,518.07 265 TOTAL: $147,450,362.21 667
These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation. To date, nearly $12.5 Billion has been administered through this successful Act. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition and hunters are the single-largest source of wildlife conservation funding.
Fourth Quarter Excise Tax Obligations for 2018 Down 7.7 Percent Over Last Year
The latest Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax Collection report released by the Department of the Treasury indicates that firearm and ammunition manufacturers reported tax liabilities of $147.5 million in the 4th calendar quarter of 2018; down 7.7 percent over the same time period reported in 2017.
The report, which covers the time period of October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, shows that $48.5 million was due in taxes for Pistols and Revolvers, $51.1 million for Firearms (other)/ Long Guns and $47.9 million for Ammunition (shells and cartridges). Compared to the October to December quarter 2017, tax obligations were up 0.1 percent for Pistols and Revolvers, down 5.1 percent for Firearms (other)/ Long Guns and down 16.7 percent for Ammunition (shells and cartridges).
Translation to sales:
Using the latest tax liabilities reported as an indication of sales, a projection of $1.38 billion was generated for the 4th Quarter calendar year of 2018.
Pistols and revolvers: $ 48,454,145.58 / .10 = $ 484,541,455.80 = $ 484.5 million for Pistols and Revolvers
Firearms (other) /Long guns: $ 51,072,698.56 / .11 = $ 464,297,259.64 = $ 464.3 million for Firearms (other) / Long guns
Ammunition (shells & cartridges): $ 47,923,518.07/ .11 = $ 435,668,346.09 = $435.7 million for Ammunition (shells & cartridges)
Total estimation of sales for the quarter: $1,384,507,061.53
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Annual Excise Tax Obligations for Calendar Year 2018 Down 2.4 Percent Over Calendar Year 2017.
Firearm and ammunition manufacturers reported total annual tax liabilities of $643.6 million for 2018; down 2.4 percent over the tax liabilities reported in 2017.
Compared to calendar year 2017, the 2018 taxes due for Pistols and Revolvers were up 0.2%,Firearms (other)/ Long Guns were up 3.3% and Ammunition (shells and cartridges) was down 10.0%.