Firearms Industry Applauds Landslide Passage of Excise Tax Improvement Legislation in U.S. Senate

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, hailed the recent passage of the Firearms Excise Tax Improvement Act of 2010 (H.R. 5552) by unanimous consent in the Senate.

The bill passed the House of Representatives at the end of June by a vote of 412-6. The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). The Senate bill (S. 632) was sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and had 30 cosponsors, including lead co-sponsor Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) who co-chairs the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.

This legislation corrects a longstanding inequity in the Internal Revenue Code by permitting firearm and ammunition manufacturers to pay the federal excise tax payment on a quarterly basis, just as other industries that support conservation through a federal excise tax do. Currently, firearms and ammunition manufacturers pay this tax on a bi-weekly schedule, forcing many manufacturers to borrow money to ensure on-time payment. Industry members spend thousands of staff-hours administering the necessary paperwork to successfully complete the bi-weekly tax payments—monies that are due to the federal government long before manufacturers are paid by their customers.

Importantly, HR 5552 pays for itself and does not add to the budget deficit. Nor does the bill lower the amount of conservation dollars collected by lowering the tax rate. It simply adjusts the payment schedule to a quarterly period.

"This bill strengthens wildlife conservation funding in America," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "By enabling manufacturers to grow their businesses, excise tax receipts will actually grow. We are thankful for the tremendous support and leadership of Senators Max Baucus and Mike Crapo. Clearly, their vision in championing this bipartisan, pro-conservation, pro-business legislation allowed for smooth passage of the bill."

Keane added, "We also want to thank Majority Leader Harry Reid for expediting the legislative process by allowing the Senate to vote on the House-passed version of the bill. Senator Reid has long supported and fought for issues important to our industry and for hunters and gun owners both in Nevada and across the United States."

The firearm and ammunition excise tax is the major revenue source for funding the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Trust Fund). Last year, firearm and ammunition manufacturers contributed approximately $450 million dollars to wildlife conservation through excise tax payments.

Passage of HR 5552 would not have been possible without the hard work of many organizations, including a broad coalition of more than 35 conservation groups that are members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners. This coalition includes the National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, which made passage of this bill a priority.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies also supported this legislation as did the Internal Revenue Service-Tax and Trade Bureau, which collects the excise tax. There is no organized opposition to this legislation.

"With passage of excise tax improvement in the House and Senate, it is our hope that President Obama will act fast to sign this legislation into law," said Keane.

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