Meridian Star

Local News

February 20, 2014

House eyes tax holiday for guns and hunting

MERIDIAN —     JACKSON (AP) — Mississippians could be able to buy guns, bullets, all-terrain vehicles and boats without paying sales taxes for a couple days under a proposal moving forward in the House.

    The Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday would take place on the first Saturday and Sunday of September under House Bill 1539, which was passed Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

    The bill exempts not only guns, ammunition and archery supplies, but also hunting supplies including shoes, bags, knives, tree stands, all-terrain vehicles and boats. Customers could also put items on layaway, still getting the tax break when they buy them later.

    "It covers everything but the lunch you bring with you," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus.

    Smith, the bill's sponsor, estimated Mississippi would forego $600,000 in revenue, based on Louisiana's experience, but said a more precise estimate would be available before the full House considered the bill.

    Louisiana and South Carolina have similar sales-tax holidays. Smith said the National Rifle Association supports the measure.

    Mississippi, like a number of other states, already has a back-to-school sales tax holiday in late summer that covers clothing, shoes and accessories priced at less than $100 per item.

    Smith said that a low per-item ceiling for his plan would defeat its purpose, because most guns are generally more expensive.

    "If you put much of a cap on, you pretty much eliminate most of the weapons," Smith said

    Lawmakers are considering a number of other bills to extend or create new tax breaks for businesses, some of which could cost more than $100 million a year in foregone revenue. Rep. Sherra Lane, D-Waynesboro, said she would like to give raises to state employees, but is told by Republicans that Mississippi can't afford to.

    "How are we going to explain to the folks at home that we keep depleting the general fund?" Lane asked.

    Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel, said she wanted to include an amendment that would allow people to buy computers costing more than $100 during the school sales tax holiday, but did not offer it. Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, also noted that the bill could be amended to exempt groceries from Mississippi's 7 percent sales tax.

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