By Larry Keane
Tax holidays are a common occurrence across many states in the U.S where, usually for one weekend a year, certain eligible products are exempt from sales tax. The benefits of these holidays are two-fold, as business owners see a dramatic increase in sales throughout the holiday weekend while consumers can save hundreds on much-needed items.
The most common tax holiday across participating states includes common back-to-school items such as computers, books, clothing, and other school supplies. As a result, the most common time for those tax holidays is in August, before the school year begins.
Second Amendment Tax Holiday
The beginning of fall signals not only the return of the school year but also the beginning of hunting season. To prepare for many hours to be spent hunting with a gun in a duck blind or a deer stand, hunters need to equip themselves with ammunition, various outdoor gear, and maybe even a new firearm.
That is why some states have tried, are currently trying, or now have a Second Amendment tax holiday where people can purchase hunting supplies, ammunition, and firearms without the burden of sales tax. It’s reasonable to assume many hunters may spend somewhere around $500-$1,000 on supplies to start a hunting season so the opportunity to save $50-$70 (depending on the state) on those purchases translates to significant savings for many individuals and families.
Benefits for Consumers
Much like the Second Amendment itself is not just about hunting, neither is the Second Amendment tax holiday. Lowering the already significant tax burden on firearms and related products ensures that, for at least one weekend of the year, the right to exercise one’s right to bear arms is more affordable than ever.
Individuals who are simply looking to protect their home and families or those who just want to enjoy time sport shooting but who once saw such activities as just outside their price range have unique opportunities to do so under a Second Amendment tax holiday.
Benefits for Firearms Industry
While tax holidays offer benefits to consumers, they can also provide dramatic revenue spikes to firearms retailers. For example in South Carolina, the first state to implement a Second Amendment tax holiday in 2008, gun sales increased by 650% in a single day.
While South Carolina no longer has their tax holiday, Mississippi has enjoyed a Second Amendment tax holiday each year since implementation in 2014. In 2018, one local firearms retailer said that the holiday “gets bigger and bigger every year. Right now, we’re selling a firearm about every 1.2 minutes.”
Breakdown by State
The benefits for consumers and retailers speak for themselves, which is why there are many states who are currently trying or have recently tried to implement such tax holidays in their respective state legislatures. In the past six years, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Maryland have all tried to implement the tax holidays but failed to pass them through state legislatures despite strong proponents.
As the firearm industry’s association, NSSF is on the front lines of state advocacy so that more states can enjoy the numerous benefits of the Second Amendment tax holidays. In states like Texas, where there is another bill under consideration that would establish a tax holiday, NSSF is committed to fighting for the benefits these holidays provide for retailers and citizens alike.
In 2018, as the Tennessee state legislature again tried to pass a Second Amendment tax holiday into law, state House Rep. Micah Van Huss said that he fully agreed with the idea as “some people are able to feed their families by hunting deer, and hogs which can be hunted year-round, but also, celebrating the Second Amendment is a primary reason we are a free nation. I think it’s a great idea.”
State Senator Rusty Crowe also supported last year’s legislation because “many who struggle financially are living or working in high crime areas, and for many, the investment in a firearm would be a challenge financially (but) this legislation could allow citizens to better afford protection.”
While the fight for this tax holiday is still being fought now in states like Tennessee and Texas, it should be an idea taken seriously across all states so that citizens may have an opportunity to affordably exercise their Second Amendment rights while supporting local firearms businesses.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.