Firearms Industry Excise Tax Dollars at Work • NSSF

Firearms Industry Excise Tax Dollars at Work • NSSF


September 27, 2018

Firearms Industry Excise Tax Dollars at Work


By Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director, Research and Market Development

Manufacturers of firearms and ammunition have been paying an excise tax on the sales of their products for more than 80 years, ever since the Pittman-Robertson Act authorizing the collection and distribution of these monies began in 1937. In 2017, more than $650 million was collected in these excise taxes and, since 1937, more than $12 billion has been collected.

Despite the longevity of this program, many people still do not know much about how and where the money is spent. These excise taxes are collected by the Tax and Trade Bureau, which then transfers the funds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). After minimal administrative expenses are taken, USFWS allocates the remaining funds to the 50 state wildlife agencies, those individual distributions based upon an apportionment formula.

Once in the states’ hands, roughly 65 percent is spent on operations, administration, capital developments, land acquisition and maintenance projects such as habitat improvement. Another 12 percent goes to hunter education, which helps teach new hunters about firearms safety and hunting ethics, while approximately 23 percent goes towards research. This research comes in many forms, from population estimates to electronic tracking studies to disease control. One research project that has been ongoing for many years is waterfowl banding. Watch this brief video that takes a closer look at this special program that benefits our country’s ducks and geese, just one way these excise taxes are being used.

Check out NSSF Infographics detailing the conservation efforts of hunters and shooters






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