January 2018 Edition | Volume 72, Issue 1
Published since 1946
Industry Trade Shows, Excise Taxes and WMI
January is an important month for industry trade shows. The Archery Trade Association hosted their annual trade show first, running from January 11 to 13 in Indianapolis. Next week, the National Shooting Sports Foundation will host the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas from January 23 to 26. These two events provide an opportunity for the manufacturers of hunting, recreational shooting, and related equipment to come together to display their newest products for distributors and retailers to review and make their orders for the upcoming sales cycle. As part of a Multi-State Conservation Grant (MSCG), the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) will participate in these trade shows to help enhance the relationship between the excise tax paying industries and the wildlife agencies who benefit from those taxes.
Having all of these manufacturers and excise tax payers in one location allows WMI, through their grant, to bring the federal agencies who collect and distribute the taxes and the state wildlife agencies who benefit from the excise taxes together with the industry manufacturers who pay the taxes. Taxpayer misunderstanding and misinformation regarding tax computation often leads to inequities in taxes paid and an overall unfair application of the excise taxes – which results in disgruntled taxpayers. These trade shows provide an opportunity to minimize these inequities by offering a forum for the tax collection agencies to communicate directly with the excise tax paying manufacturers. In addition, these trade shows provide an opportunity for the federal and state wildlife agencies to better inform those who pay the excise tax about how their taxes are used to promote strong wildlife populations as well as opportunities for hunting and recreational shooting – which ultimately results in more customers buying the equipment the taxpaying manufacturers provide.
At the ATA Show this year, WMI coordinated the involvement of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and state wildlife agencies at a special seminar for industry excise tax payers on the day before the show. The IRS is the federal collection agency for excise taxes collected on taxable archery equipment. The seminar will allow manufacturers to propose questions to the IRS regarding their specific excise tax situation. They will also hear from the wildlife agencies regarding how their tax contributions are put to use on the ground. In addition, WMI will coordinate agency representatives reaching out directly to new manufacturers of taxable products. These one-on-one connections are designed to ensure that these future excise tax contributors are fully aware of their responsibilities and that they understand how important their tax contributions are to supporting the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation.
Similar activities are planned for the SHOT Show. While a formal seminar is not planned, WMI has assisted in bringing the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) back to the show after being absent for several years. The TTB is the federal collection agency for excise taxes on firearms and ammunition. This year, TTB will have a booth on the show floor and will have at least five staff at the show. WMI will be coordinating TTB and FWS experts as they identify new manufacturers of taxable products to ensure that they understand their tax related responsibilities and how their tax dollars find their way to on-the-ground management of wildlife and shooting sports facilities.
The bottom-line is that the WMI is working to strengthen industry/agency partnerships with a focus on the American System of Conservation Funding. We are striving to make sure that the excise tax paying industries understand the importance of the role they play in wildlife conservation. At the same time, we are working to improve communication in an effort to ensure an equitable application of the excise tax. Improved communication and understanding among the partners will undoubtedly result in a strengthened relationship.