Politics & Government

Texas tax holidays proposed for guns and ammo

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Tax-free shopping may not be just for kids’ clothes anymore.

State lawmakers are reviewing plans to extend the benefit to other Texans, particularly hunters.

Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, proposes creating two new sales tax holidays — at the beginning of dove- and deer-hunting seasons — for those buying firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment.

The bill, he said, “recognizes that hunting is a time-honored tradition in Texas and looks to give tax relief to the sportsmen and women who continue one of our most cherished pastimes.”

The holidays would exempt firearms and hunting supplies such as ammunition, blinds, stands, decoys, firearm-cleaning supplies, gun cases and safety equipment.

Not everyone is on board.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they would single out one group,” said Marsha McCartney, president of the Texas chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“I read a lot and I would like a tax-free holiday for books,” she said. “Why don’t we just have a tax-free day and give everyone a break?”

Texas has a sales tax holiday each year, designed to help parents afford back-to-school clothes for their children.

This year’s tax-free weekend is scheduled for Aug. 7-9. It exempts most clothes, shoes, school supplies and backpacks under $100 from sales and use taxes.

Legislative proposals

Paddie said that Texans have bought more than 1.2 million hunting licenses in the past year and that his bill could encourage even more people to hunt.

So he’s asking for the two tax-free shopping weekends: one in late August, heading into dove season, and one in late October, heading into deer season.

“This bill will serve to increase the number of hunters in Texas, which will provide further economic opportunity in many rural areas that offer world-renowned hunting,” he said.

He isn’t the only lawmaker looking to give hunters a tax break.

Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, filed HB206 to create a sales tax holiday for firearms and hunting supplies on the last full weekend of August.

He calls it the Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday Act, which is in effect in other states including Mississippi and Louisiana.

“This legislation ensures that Texas remains at the forefront in the fight to protect our treasured right to keep and bear arms,” Leach said. “It encourages gun owners and sportsmen to spend their money in Texas and, in doing so, serves as an economic engine for large and small retailers across the state.”

State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, filed a similar bill, Senate Bill 228, in the Senate.

Also, state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, filed HB712 to exempt firearm and firearm supplies from 12:01 a.m. on the Friday before the last full weekend before the opening day of dove season until midnight the following Sunday.

Who benefits?

Supporters say there are many benefits to the proposals.

“I am glad to encourage the strong hunting culture of our state and certainly to promote our heritage and support of the Second Amendment,” Creighton said of his bill.

Others say these bills just aren’t a good idea.

“Sales tax holidays are by and large bad public policy,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. “They arbitrarily pick winners and losers and deprive the state of vital tax revenue, since by and large they do not generate significant additional purchases.”

Paddie said the proposal could help younger Texans.

That’s because it would not only give relief to more established hunters, but would also help “those who continue to pass our love of hunting and outdoors down to the next generation,” he said.

Jones and others say it gives preferential treatment to one category of Texans.

“This bill would be a good deal for Texas hunters, gun enthusiasts and hunting retailers, and a bad deal for all other Texans,” Jones said. “And of course the bill raises the inevitable question of if we are going to have sales tax holidays for hunters, why not also have them for birders, fishers, gamers and quilters, among others.”

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

Proposed sales tax exemptions

Texas lawmakers have proposed several sales tax exemptions this legislative session. Here are some proposals.

Senate Bill 426/House Bill 1087: Exempting sales tax from the sale of certain electronic devices, totaling less than $200, during the regular back-to-school tax free weekend. This would include e-readers, personal computers and tablet computers bought in person.

SB157: Exempting from sales and use tax some books bought by college students. These would be books bought by a full- or part-time student for short periods in August and January.

House Bill 619: Exempting from and limiting sales tax added to the purchases of certain boats and boat motors.

HB1201: Exempting sales tax for items sold at a U.S. military installation to active-duty members of the military.

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