By WILLIAM MARCH | Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It could be a good year for gun rights and gun owners. The state Legislature is proposing to make Florida one of the few states offering tax breaks for purchasers of guns, ammunition and gun club memberships.
A massive House tax cut package would exempt target and skeet shooting club membership fees from sales taxes, and create a sales tax holiday on July 4 for rifles, shotguns and ammunition.
State officials estimate the club fee exemption will cut state and local tax revenue by $1.2 million, but haven't estimated the effect of the sales tax holiday.
The House package, FTC 5, includes some $690 million from 26 tax cuts, from $432 million in telephone and television services taxes to $500,000 in sales taxes on pear cider.
The House and Senate likely will negotiate the items as they try to bridge a $4 billion gap between their budget proposals.
But state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee, said “Every item in the tax package is a priority to me.”
In committee last week, Gaetz referred to taxes on the club memberships as “the Second Amendment tax” and said, “If someone is responsibly engaged in the activity of learning how to appropriately use their firearm, it decreases the rate of error, it decreases potential accidents.”
Democrats voiced only muted objections. When Gaetz called for questions, Jose Rodriguez of Miami said simply, “Why?”
“It's the chairman's discretion and it's one of his priorities,” Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana said afterward. “But I'm hopeful this will not become part of the final tax package.”
Lake County tax appraiser and former state senator Carey Baker, whose family owns a Mount Dora gun shop, said the tax holiday could save a purchaser of a medium-priced, $700 shotgun $42; up to $70 on a medium-priced hunting rifle, or more on a semi-automatic, but he added he'd prefer not to open the shop on July 4.
Louisiana and Mississippi have similar firearms sales tax holidays, according to the National Rifle Association.
So far this year, the Legislature has killed a bill to outlaw backyard shooting ranges and is advancing bills to allow guns to be carried on college campuses and by designated individuals in public schools.