If you build, buy, or sell firearms and ammunition, West Virginia wants your business.
That’s the takeaway from a bill that passed the West Virginia legislature this year. The law, HB 2499, eliminates the state sales tax on all small arms and ammunition and gives gun and ammo makers a tax break if they operate in the state.
“If you are going to buy that $2,000 riffle, it’s going to be $120 cheaper here in West Virginia than compared to our neighboring states,” Delegate Gary Howell, one of the bill’s sponsors, told local media.
Beginning on July 1, West Virginia’s 6% sales tax no longer applies to small arms designed to be carried and operated by a single person (including, but not limited to, rifles, pistols, and revolvers .50-caliber or smaller, and shotguns 10-gauge or smaller) and all firearm ammunition “designed for use in small arms.”
West Virginia’s move, which was supported by Democrats in the legislature, starkly contrasts the San Diego city council, which just passed an annual tax on all gun owners for simply owning a firearm.
The legislation also encourages firearms and ammunition companies to move their manufacturing to West Virginia by offering a substantial tax break to qualified outfits.
“The Legislature finds that the encouragement of small arms and ammunition manufacturing in this state is in the public interest and promotes the general welfare of the people of this state,” the bill reads. “In order to encourage capital investment in the manufacturing of small arms and ammunition in this state and thereby increase economic opportunity for its citizens there is hereby enacted the tax credit for the benefit of small arms and ammunition manufacturing.”
The credit is equal to 100 percent of federal excise tax paid in a tax year and can be used by any company that opens a new or expanded small arms and ammunition manufacturing facility with an investment of greater than $2 million.
“If they do a $1 million piece of equipment, we will tax it as if it’s a $50,000 piece of equipment. That’s to encourage investment in the state,” said Howell. “It makes West Virginia the single best place to locate arms or ammunition manufacturing plant.”
Companies have already started to take up the state on their offer. According to local media, bullet company Ranger Scientific plans to build a new ammunition plant in Montgomery that will offer more than 400 jobs. It is one of the first arms manufacturers in West Virginia.
The bill passed with flying colors in both the state Senate (34-0) and the House (96-3).