Sales tax holiday for guns is dead bill

A bill creating a two-day sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition in honor of Second Amendment Weekend has died amid lawmakers’ concerns over the state budget.

Rep. Warner McBride, D-Courtland, authored House Bill 1207, which had 39 cosponsors, including several from South Mississippi. But the House Ways and Means Committee didn’t take up the bill. Lawmakers wanted more information about the proposal, McBride said.

“I think we’d all like to have better numbers on what it means to the general fund,” McBride said.

The legislation would waive sales taxes on rifles, shotguns, handguns and ammunition on Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

The National Rifle Association and some hunting groups support Second Amendment Weekends that Louisiana and South Carolina have enacted.

Sporting goods stores in Louisiana reported a boost during the tax holiday, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

McBride said the state is likely losing business to Louisiana.

Supporters said the bill also might help Mississippi attract out-of-state shoppers on Second Amendment Weekend because they could find big savings on gun and ammo purchases just before several fall hunting seasons open.

Supporters hope they would also buy other hunting supplies that wouldn’t be covered by the sales tax exemption, which might create more revenue.

Some tax research groups oppose sales tax holidays, including the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based organization that describes itself as “a nonpartisan educational organization.”

In a 2009 report, the Tax Foundation said claims about such sales tax holidays boosting the economy are often overblown.

The Tax Foundation also said tax amnesty days are “political gimmicks” that distract lawmakers from tackling deeper issues with the tax code.

McBride said he doesn’t plan to offer the measure as an amendment this year, but will continue to look for ways to improve it for future legislative sessions.

One option may be to limit the size of a purchase that might qualify for the tax exemptions, which might stop some of the tax revenue losses from sales of high end guns, which can cost several thousand dollars.

By MICHAEL NEWSOM – mmnewsom@sunherald.com
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