Lansing, Michigan - -(Ammoland.com)- (If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.
Sorry for the reminder, but you must admit, it’s poignant. Oh, Mr. President, don’t you fret about your next vacation; I’ll be sending along what’s left – that change you demanded. Promise.
But, I’d procrastinate to the last second, if it weren’t for a professional hired to persuade me. He calculates and packages myriad forms; all I do is “Sign Here.” Clean, pre-packaged, and I never had to see the inner-workings – much like a meat eater against hunting, I suppose.
Other than politicians, who’d ever be in favor of taxes? Undoubtedly, there are those among us who’ve taken on the role of Paul robustly clamoring for more from Peter; I get that. Believe me; I really get that – especially this time of year.
However, here’s the story behind a hidden tax, which has supported the abundant wildlife we value so much – and the “we” refers to all of us, whether bird watchers, berry pickers, mushroom pickers, tree huggers, outdoor lovers of all kinds - and yes, hunters. But it is the hunters that foot the entire bill.
The incredible population revitalization of many of the wild animals we may take for granted began in 1937, when President Roosevelt penned the Pittman-Robertson Act. It imposed an excise tax set at 10% of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition (soon thereafter 11%) and 10% of the wholesale price for handguns beginning in 1970 and 11 percent on archery equipment as of 1972.
The excise tax applies basically to all commercial sales and imports, whether their purpose is for shooting, hunting or personal defense and is paid by manufacturers, producers and importers.
Within a short period of years, funds from excise taxes on guns began to mount – so much so, that a repeal bill was introduced. Hunters shot it down and wildlife funding is stronger than ever today.
It’s built into the price of our gear, passed on to us sportsmen at the retail level, and then taxed again. And, yet complaints are not heard. And, those hunting license fees and federal duck stamps, we’re pitching in $millions more. But, did you know that much of its use is mandated for hunter safety, land acquisition, shooting ranges and their management?
Just this past week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation. Ah, yes. For once, the term “giving back” is accurate, because it implies something was first taken.
A nationwide scientific survey by Responsive Management shows that 79 percent of Americans over age 17 approve of hunting, up five percent in just two years to the highest level since 1995. America is listening.
As it stands, Michigan’s allocation is $35,244,512 – behind only Alaska, Texas and California, while on par with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, sportsmen and women contribute $3.5 million per day to conservation, while only comprising a scant 7 percent of the population.
I, for one, am grateful for the phenomenal return of bald eagles, antelope, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, elk, and even our diminutive Kirtlkand’s warbler (which nests only in upper Michigan) to name few species. The record contributions we sportsmen continue to provide are a shining star amid an otherwise deprived economy.
Sportsmen and women may be despised by the vocal lunatic fringe; yet, if anyone chooses to live on nuts, berries, and sprouts, we’re fine with that.
Now, please pass the venison, thank you.
About Glen Wunderlich Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Adjutant of Perry, Michigan Sons of Amvets Post 4064 and Chairman Perry (MI) Youth Hunt Extravaganza, a sanctioned event of Perry Sons of Amvets held the third weekend of September each year.