DES MOINES — Iowans purchasing a new gun or ammunition could have a sales tax-free holiday similar to the one families get every August on clothing, shoes and some school-related items.
A House Economic Development subcommittee voted 2-1 Tuesday to establish a three-day period around the Fourth of July holiday when sales of firearms and ammunition would not be subject to the state sales tax.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Rep. Tedd Gassman, R-Scarville.
Rep. Terry Baxter, R-Garner, said several other states have a similar sales tax holiday on purchases of guns and ammunition, and he would like to see it occur here several months before Iowa’s fall hunting season so gun buyers could get acclimated to their new weapons and have a chance to practice at a gun range before moving into the field.
“It really does bring a safety factor that I think would be a real positive,” Baxter said. He added that a sales tax exemption also would honor “those men and women in arms” who fought for the country and the nation’s heritage of Second Amendment rights.
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However, Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, questioned whether the state should be in the business of “picking winners and losers” with its sales tax policy.
“I think it sets a terrible precedent,” said Jacoby, who wondered why the state doesn’t offer a tax holiday for canoes and fishing gear in advance of fishing seasons, using the same logic.
“I don’t equate tax freedom with the Fourth of July, I guess why not for Christmas? You could give a gun for a Christmas present. Why not Columbus Day?” he asked. “I don’t quite tie the two together — freedom and a sales tax holiday for guns and ammo.”
Rep. Charlies McConkey, D-Council Bluffs, who was not a subcommittee member but attended the meeting to express his concern, said he did not necessarily want to use the Fourth of July celebration as a vehicle for encouraging the sale and use of firearms.
Jacoby said he would be in favor of considering a sales tax exemption that has more of an across-the-board impact of helping families and schoolchildren.
House Study Bill 648 now moves to the full House Economic Development Committee for consideration