MS considers guns and hunting supplies sales tax holiday


Game feeders, left, and deer stands would be covered under a new sales tax holiday in Mississippi if Mississippi House Bill 1539 passes. The holiday would be the first weekend of September and cover guns and hunting supplies.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

In the 17 states with sales tax holidays, the weekends are usually clothed in the plaids and khaki of school uniforms.

If House Bill 1539 is passed by the Mississippi Legislature, a new sales tax holiday will be clothed in camouflage.

The proposal would create a sales tax holiday on the first weekend of September that would exempt sales of guns, ammunition and hunting supplies from the state’s 7 percent sales tax.

Items considered hunting supplies by the bill include animal feed, tree stands, boats and all-terrain vehicles.

Mississippi would be the third state to have a tax holiday on guns and hunting supplies, following in the tracks of South Carolina and Louisiana.

Crowell Armstrong, president of the Mississippi Retail and Grocery Association, said the tax holiday is a good idea.

“We support everything that gives our retailers an advantage when it comes to making sales,” Armstrong said.

But not everyone agrees with that assessment.

The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation authored a report showing sales tax holidays are a barrier to real tax reform and this new proposed holiday isn’t on target in their estimation.

“They might claim it’s about cutting taxes and encouraging gun rights, but a bill like this is usually about attracting attention for the sponsor,” Joseph Henchman, vice president for operations for the Tax Foundation, told Mississippi Watchdog. “If the sales tax is so high, why not just lower the tax all of the time. If we can do it for a weekend, why not all of the time?”

Henchman said that any boost provided to outdoors retailers is a temporary one, arguing the tax holiday isn’t going to encourage new purchasers to buy.

“It merely shifts the time in which people purchase items,” Henchman said. “If everyone is going to buy something anyway, why do we need a holiday to do it?”

While retailers that sell school supplies — covered by the state’s other tax holiday — are used to dealing with the compliance issues of not adding sales tax at the register, outdoors retailers might not be.

Deer stands like this one would be part of a sales tax holiday in Mississippi on guns and hunting supplies.

Armstrong said it wouldn’t be a problem.

“Our retailers are equipped and used to dealing with the holiday sales,” Armstrong said. “While the stores that sell hunting gear aren’t used to it, I’m sure the adjustment wouldn’t be a problem for them.”

Mississippi, according to data provided by the Tax Foundation, is tied with Indiana, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee for the second-highest state sales tax rate in the nation at 7 percent.

Armstrong said that some form of the bill, now in the House Ways and Means Committee, will pass, just not in its original form.

“At this point, it’s a Christmas tree,” Armstrong said. “I think they want to make it reasonable for everyone.”

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