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Connecticut: Gun Safety Devices Are Tax-Exempt

  • Feb 21, 2014 | Gail Cole

 Sales tax exemption encourages gun safety in Connecticut.

Firearm safety devices have been exempt from Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan reminded Connecticut taxpayers and retailers of this fact earlier this week, after it was revealed that Walmart has reportedly been charging sales tax on gun safety devices.

“It’s hard to imagine why a major retailer like the one in this case has wrongly been taxing customers,” said the commissioner. “I am grateful to the taxpayers and media that brought this situation to light.”

The story was broken by Hearst Connecticut Media after seasoned gun owner Sean Wioshynsky noticed the gaffe. He claims he told the store that tax wasn’t owed on safety devices and “showed them the exact website” to prove it. They charged him sales tax anyway.

Other consumers have stepped forward and revealed they, too, were charged sales tax on certain firearm safety products purchased at Walmart. One man said he was treated well when he asked for a refund of the tax: “The lady I dealt with was very nice and said I should not have been charged the sales tax.”

Reporters discovered during telephone surveys of Connecticut’s 33 Walmart stores that the 16 stores that sell gun safes also tax them. One sales associate, in response to the reporter’s question, confirmed after verifying that there was “regular sales tax” on a gun safe. Another Walmart employee said, “Yes, there is tax on everything” (Connecticut Post).

Walmart’s initial response to the issue came from spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan: “Walmart is in compliance with the law and doesn’t charge sales tax on gun safes.” Nor has it “since that law was put into place.” She later claimed that the product purchased by Mr. Witoshynsky was new, so the SKU number had not been entered into the system. “Our system defaults to sales tax.”

Later, Walmart took a different approach. As explained by Ms. Buchanan in an email to Hearst:

"We are sending out an internal note to our associates explaining that gun safes are exempt from sales tax in Connecticut and other states that have similar laws," 

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) has asked Walmart to “cease and desist from collecting tax on these exempt sales, fully refund taxpayers, and demonstrate that the tax collected was indeed remitted.”

As for taxapyers, DRS encourages them to step forward  with “complains of erroneous or fraudulent tax practices….”

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photo credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.