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Federal Sales Tax on Guns Proposed


 Proposed tax targets firearms.

New York Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D) has introduced legislation seeking to reduce the number of guns in circulation by making guns more expensive and mandating the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

Reducing Gun Violence in our Neighborhoods Act of 2015 (H.R. 3830), introduced this week would:

  • Create a national database for lost guns
  • Establish a national standard for the incorporation of a passive identification capability into all firearms sold in the U.S.
  • Require gun owners to report missing firearms
    • Failure to report loss or theft of firearm could lead to fines of $10,000 per missing firearm
  • Levy a federal tax on the retail sale of firearms
    • $100 per firearm
    • Firearms acquired for law enforcement would be exempt

According to Velázquez, “[A]lmost 600,000 guns are stolen each year from private homes. New York streets are often a destination for guns lost or stolen in states with more permissive gun laws…. If making guns more expensive means fewer end up in commerce, I’m happy with that result. However, if guns are going to be sold, then those purchasing and selling them should pay for programs that can reduce the incidence of gun violence in our local communities.”

Revenue generated by the tax would fund anti-violence and mental health programs and create a Gun Violence Reduction and Mental Health Counseling Trust Fund.

Many local officials and gun control organizations in New York have voiced support for the bill. The gun industry, however, has concisely expressed an opposing viewpoint. Lawrence G. Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation told Guns.com, “It is an unconstitutional poll tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment.”

Both Seattle and Cook County, Illinois, levy tax on retail sales of guns, and Los Angeles is considering doing the same. The gun industry is fighting these taxes in court.

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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.