Seattle Gun Tax Upheld, Starts January 2016
- Sales Tax News
- Dec 29, 2016 | Gail Cole
Update 8.11.2017: Seattle's tax on guns and ammunition was upheld by the Washington Supreme Court on Aug. 10, 2017.
Last August, the Seattle City Council created a gun violence tax, set to take effect January 1, 2016. The $25 tax on firearms sold at retail and the 2-5-cent tax per round of ammunition were immediately challenged by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other firearms groups, and it has been unclear whether or not it would be allowed to take effect as scheduled. The gun violence tax has now been upheld by King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson.
As explained in Judge Palmer’s opinion, “The first issue is whether the primary purpose of the city is to raise revenue for general governmental purposes or to regulate. Here, the ordinance states its purpose is to provide broad-based public benefits. It does not place any burden or restriction on the plaintiffs in terms of their conduct other than to require payment of fees and it does not prescribe any activity other than the non-payment of the sums….” The opinion also notes that the city is permitted to selectively tax specific products.
Owners of Seattle gun stores fought the tax. As reported by the Seattle Times, they “have called the ordinance an unfair burden that will force them to lose business or relocated outside the city.” The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling at the Court of Appeals.
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