California Tax Bill Takes Aim at Recreational Shooters and Hunters

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager

Highlights

  • On April 6, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee passed Assembly Bill 1223 (AB 1223), which would impose a $25 tax on all firearm purchases and a “yet to be determined” tax on ammunition sales. 
  • California’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters already pay an 11% federal excise tax on the purchase of sporting arms and munitions via the Pittman-Robertson Act, which contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife for conservation efforts across the state.
  • The additional tax imposed by AB 1223 will drive up the costs of firearms and ammunition, deter purchases, and consequentially have a negative impact on California’s fish and wildlife through reduced conservation funding.

Why it matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays – public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.  

Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, California’s hunters and recreational shooters pay an 11% excise tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts.

On April 6, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee advanced AB 1223, which would impose a $25 tax on all firearm purchases in the state, along with a “yet to be determined” tax on all ammunition sales. Under AB 1223, the state’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters would face taxes for engaging in their lawful outdoor pursuits, while the additional costs would deter participation and eventually hurt conservation funding through decreased firearm and ammunition purchases. If passed, AB 1223 would place an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing their sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding from which all California residents enjoy. Despite being paid for by hunters and recreational shooters, none of the tax revenue generated under AB 1223 would go toward conservation efforts, but would instead be used for criminal violence programs under the California Violence Intervention & Prevention fund.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation testified against AB 1223 at the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing and will continue to work with partner organizations in opposition to the bill as it moves forward through the legislative process.

States Involved

Share this page

Your opinion counts

Recently, two Montana state representatives have proposed more aggressive legislation addressing the state's gray wolf population. These bills range from the addition of a wolf tag into big game combination tags, to year-round sanctioned harvest without a license, use of snare traps, and private reimbursement of wolf harvest. Currently, the wolf population in Montana sits at 850 wolves, which is 700 over the state’s minimum recovery goal of 150 wolves. Which of the below options for wolf management do you support? (Select all that apply)

Vote Here
Get Involved

We work hard to educate elected officials about issues important to you, but we can't do it alone. Find out how you can get involved and support CSF.

Read More