Firearms Industry Applauds Excise Tax Reform Bill

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Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, has introduced legislation (HR 6310) seeking to rectify a longstanding inequity in the collection of the firearms and ammunition excise tax (FAET) -- a major source of wildlife conservation funding. Joining Rep. Kind in sponsoring the legislation are fellow Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus co-chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and both caucus vice-chairmen, Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry -- has been leading a broad coalition of sportsmen and conservation groups, including the National Rifle Association and Ducks Unlimited, in an effort to reform the federal excise tax.

HR 6310 will allow the firearms and ammunition industry to pay the FAET on a quarterly basis, the same payment schedule as every other industry that supports conservation. Currently firearms and ammunition manufacturers must pay the FAET bi-weekly. This payment schedule forces many manufacturers to borrow money to ensure on-time payment, and industry members spend thousands of man-hours administering the necessary paperwork to successfully complete the bi-weekly payments -- monies that are due long before manufacturers are paid by their customers. This legislation will not lower the amount of conservation dollars collected by the tax.

Leading to even greater excise tax payments, the NSSF estimates that shifting to a quarterly payment schedule will free up approximately $22 million dollars annually for manufacturers to reinvest and grow their businesses.

"Shifting to quarterly payments would allow manufacturers to invest in new equipment and product designs and enhance their marketing efforts," said Steve Sanetti, president of the NSSF. "This in turn could lead to greater participation in hunting and the shooting sports, something that would benefit everyone."

According to the most recent federal excise tax collection report, during the last quarter, $74.8 million was generated for conservation, compared to $67.4 million in the same period in 2006. In 2007, the firearms and ammunition industry contributed a total of $303.2 million in excise taxes, up 21.2 percent from the $250.1 million in 2006.

"A financially strong and growing firearms and ammunition industry will not only generate greater excise tax revenues, monies that will be used to fund conservation throughout the United States, but will also help ensure America's manufacturers remain competitive in an increasingly global economy," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

"We appreciate the strong support of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus," continued Keane. "The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation was particularly helpful in educating caucus members about the benefits this bill will have on conservation efforts nationwide."

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), co-chairmen of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus in the U.S. Senate, are expected to introduce a companion bill in the near future.

Earlier this year the industry marked an important milestone in its longstanding support of wildlife conservation. Manufacturers have since 1991 contributed more than $3 billion dollars to fund wildlife conservation through the payment of the federal excise tax. Since the inception of the excise tax in 1937, more than $5 billion dollars has been collected.