Bill: Tax Holiday for Guns
Bill seeks sales tax holiday for guns, ammo
By Enrique Rangel | A-J AUSTIN BUREAU
Friday, March 13, 2009
Story last updated at 3/13/2009 - 1:34 am
AUSTIN - Every summer, just before kids go back to school, millions of Texas families take advantage of a three-day sales tax holiday to buy clothes and shoes for the youngsters.
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth wants to do the same for hunters who need handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition for their annual hunting trip. The San Antonio Republican has introduced a bill that, if the Legislature approves and Gov. Rick Perry signs into law, would exempt the sale of those items from the state sales tax if purchased the last weekend of August.
The state collects about $22 million a year in sales taxes from the purchase of firearms and ammunition, Wentworth said while explaining the reason behind his Senate Bill 1788.
"This holiday tax would not make a dent on the $22 million," he said. "This is just one weekend out of the 365 days in the year."
On the contrary, it may even spark more interest in the hunting industry, which in turn helps to pay for the state's park system and other outdoor activities, he said.
Some of Wentworth's colleagues, like Reps. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, and David Swinford, R-Dumas, agreed.
"I am all for it," Swinford said. "This may even generate more interest for hunting, and that would be beneficial to the state."
"I appreciate Sen. Wentworth's effort," Isett said. "I am a sports enthusiast and I think that exempting the sales tax for guns for one weekend could motivate a lot of people who otherwise may not be inclined to plan a hunting trip. The hunting industry generates a lot of revenue for our state, especially in West Texas, and so this is a good idea."
But other lawmakers are not sold on Wentworth's bill.
"We have a back-to-school tax-free weekend every year because it helps a lot of working families," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who sits on the House Calendars Committee, a key panel because it decides what legislation goes to the chamber's floor for debate and possible passage.
"But at a time when we may have a shortfall, I don't see how this would benefit the state," Coleman said. "If we exempt guns and ammunition from the sales tax even for one weekend, let's have a tax holiday to buy cars, to buy sailboats, to buy motorcycles, to buy trade mills."
Even if these were prosperous times, the Legislature would not be receptive to Wentworth's bill, Coleman added.
"It is not because we don't believe in people's right to bear arms," he said. "It's because we don't think we ought to subsidize an industry, which is what this bill would, subsidize the gun industry.