Want to hit a sore spot for outdoor store owners?
Talk about the Second Amendment Tax-Free Weekend.
It’s about as confusing a situation as there ever has been for hunting outfitters. It’s the result of the recent State Legislature's reaction to Gov. John Bel Edwards plea for more revenue.
Here’s what happened: The House rejected the notion of doing away with the years this special weekend allowed all hunting items be free of state and local taxes. The Senate then passed a bill doing away with the exemption, and there seemed to be no resolution, so this tax-free weekend went away.
But, only for the state’s 4.45 percent tax. It left in the requirement for the parishes to honor the tax-free status on items ranging from rifles, shotguns, ammo, hunting clothing and knives all the way up to ATVs.
The special weekends began on the Friday before the first day of the hunting season and remained through the following Sunday.
C.J. Hebert at Hebert’s Guns in Prairieville said he has spent most of the past month sorting through the confusion.
“I had to contact five or six people to find out what is correct,” Hebert said. “I know my state representative voted to keep the tax-exempt weekend. It passed the House with flying colors, but the Senate, well, apparently, too many words got crossed, and we’re left with state tax not exempt, but the parish tax is (exempt).”
Hebert said the full near 10 percent tax exemption (it varies by parish) made his customers feel the state was honoring them for spending their hard-earned dollars in the local economy.
So, like many other hunting shops, Hebert said he’s continuing the special weekend.
“What we’re going to do is pay the state tax for our customers,” Hebert said. “I was shocked at the response we had the first time this came up. And that response has continued through the years.”
Hebert said he didn’t agree with Edwards about the loss of state revenue, and doing away with the state tax exemption would be a great benefit to the state’s General Fund.
“If you talk to the stores in the north (Louisiana), they would get customers coming from Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas to spend money in their places,” Hebert said. “We get folks from Mississippi here, and it was the tax-free lure that brought them here.
“(Hunters) will still come, but they’ll probably not be as enthusiastic.”
Hebert said another disturbing point is the recent TV campaign ads coming from the Edwards camp.
“As a taxpayer I’m a little upset with the governor, about him crying about the deficit, and now he’s saying there’s a surplus,” Hebert said. “What he and others wanting to do away with this tax exemption is ignoring how much repeat business it brings into our stores.
“And they need to know this special weekend broke sales records, and broke the slow months we endure from March into September,” Hebert said. “And what these officials don’t see is a guy walking into our stores and checking out a high-dollar scope or other equipment, telling us “that’s nice,” then turning around and ordering the same scope through the internet without paying sales tax.
“We lose the business and it looks like in many cases, the state loses, too, because how much are they tracking these internet sales,” he said.
Hebert said there are many other ways the state loses in taking away the Second Amendment Weekend.
“We buy ads in The Advocate to announce this sale. Others do, too, and you know the newspaper isn’t getting a tax break,” Hebert said. “And, there’s the domino effect, because sales this weekend will lead to many other sales in the coming months.
“The man down the highway sells four-wheelers, and has sold lots of them on the tax-free weekend,” he said. “What the elected officials miss is he will sell lots of accessories and do tune-ups and repair work in the next year, and that will produce taxes for the state and the local communities.
“The state will make money, much more to offset any (revenue) the (elected) officials believe they lost.”