SC offering shoppers tax-free weekend on guns

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2009 11:17 AM

South Carolina shoppers will get a second chance to buy tax-free guns.

The state Revenue Department sent out a reminder Wednesday of the upcoming "Second Amendment Weekend." The 48-hour tax break begins just after midnight the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Shoppers will pay no state or local sales taxes on handguns, rifles and shotguns, which can tally 9 percent. Taxes still apply to ammunition and accessories.

South Carolina had the nation's first tax holiday on guns last year, after legislators tacked it on to a tax break on energy-efficient appliances. But the state Supreme Court threw out that law in May because of an unrelated energy amendment. Lawmakers restored the tax break as a one-time event in the budget this year.

Louisiana followed this year with its own sales tax holiday for hunters in September. That break went further, applying to any item that can be used for hunting or fishing, including off-road vehicles, airboats, animal feed and ear plugs.

South Carolina is the only state to designate a tax-free weekend during two of the year's biggest shopping days.

How much shoppers saved in the gun-friendly state last Thanksgiving weekend is unknown. State economic officials estimated it would cost the state about $15,000.

The National Rifle Association praises the idea.

"It allows gun owners in tough economic times to stock up on the hunting season and holiday season," said NRA spokeswoman Alexa Fritts.

But the director of a nonprofit that advocates for changes in South Carolina's tax structure said "there is no good tax reason to have a gun sales tax holiday."

"It isn't tax policy. It's gun policy," said John Ruoff of South Carolina Fair Share. "Our state tax system is sufficiently screwed up that instead of taking a serious look at it ... we keep doing stuff like a gun sales tax holiday, or a going-back-to-school tax holiday, all of which are very shortsighted tax policies or kneejerk pandering."

His group argues the state unfairly relies on sales and excise taxes, which disproportionately affect the poor.

South Carolina's tax-free weekend for school supplies is in August.