Some states have sought to add a special sales tax on all firearms and ammunition – one in California could even increase the price of a firearm by as much as ten percent. However, as of just last Thursday, most firearms and ammunition sold in West Virginia are now sales tax-free. The removal of the tax on those items was part of House Bill 2499, which passed during this year’s legislative session as a way to promote business in the Mountain State.
As part of the exemption, small arms include “any portable firearm, designed to be carried and operated by a single person, including, but not limited to, rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers, with no barrel greater than an internal diameter of .50 caliber or a shotgun of 10 gauge or smaller.”
Such items as airsoft and BB guns, paintball guns, starter pistols, cap guns/toy guns, non-firing replicas and firearm parts are not part of the exemption and would still be subject to the state’s sales tax.
The bill passed on April 1, moved to the Governor’s desk on April 2, and was signed on April 8. It officially went into effect on July 1. Local gun shops have praised the move and expect to see business increase accordingly.
“It’s definitely going to spike gun sales for the foreseeable future. Then after that, I think it will steadily increase in terms of your mid and high-range arms. So, I think over the long term that it will defiantly be a boost in business,” Taylor Collins, gun and ammo salesman for Bridgeport, told WOWK TV.
Lawmakers have also noted the savings it will mean for West Virginia residents.
“If you are going to buy that $2,000 rifle, it’s going to be $120 cheaper here in West Virginia than compared to our neighboring states,” said state Delegate Gary Howell (R-District 56).
Calling Gun Makers to West Virginia
The removal of sales tax on firearms and ammunition sales was just one part of the bill, which was further meant to stimulate economic growth for firearms and ammunition manufacturers as well.
Republican House of Delegates member Robbie Martin, who supported the bill, told The Record Delta, “West Virginia is now the best place in the United States to locate a small arms or ammo plant.”
Ranger Scientific, a local rifle ammunition maker, announced that it would break ground on two additional facilities after the measure was passed earlier this year. The tax incentives allow the company to move ahead with large expansions – including overhauling the grounds of a former high school in Montgomery and even building a new facility in nearby Dickinson – creating an additional 400 jobs in the state.
“HB 2499 solved several of those ‘economic issues’ that were holding Ranger Scientific back,” added Martin. “We expect other manufacturers to take advantage of the new tax structure to bring even more jobs to West Virginia.”
Country roads, take me home.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.