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Old McDonald Pays a Tax, If He Wins in Court (a Gun Tax, That Is)

By: William Ahern

With all the news stories about gun rights — the court battle between the City of Chicago and Otis McDonald and the carry-in service at Starbucks — here’s a reminder of how guns are taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. ed. The standard taxes on pistols, revolvers, etc. are collected at the distributor level. Each gun carries either a 10% or 11% tax, administered by the Tax and Trade Bureau at the Treasury Department.

The IRS reports collections of $312 million during fiscal year 2008 (10/1/07 – 9/30/08) on line 152, column V of this spreadsheet.

NFA transfer taxes (paid by the individual when he acquires a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, etc.) are administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That payment is generally $200 plus some administrative rigamarole that enables local officials to delay and track transfers. See pp. 185-190 of the Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide.