Ruling could shoot down trap, skeet clubs

Advertisement

WALLA WALLA — Trap and skeet shooters locally and elsewhere are worried a state agency’s new policy could pose a serious threat to their sport.

Bob Bloch, secretary-treasurer of the Walla Walla Gun Club, said the problem stems from the Washington state Department of Revenue’s reversal of a long-standing policy on purchases of clay targets.

The department now requires gun clubs to pay sales and use tax on clay targets when they are purchased and again when they are sold to members and guests as targets, Bloch said.

Along with its new policy, the department has announced it will shortly audit every gun club in the state and require back taxes, penalties and interest to be assessed on all clay targets purchased, in some cases as far back as seven years.

Bloch said most gun clubs, such as the one in Walla Walla, are nonprofit organizations that have operated in good faith based on earlier Department of Revenue rulings. Those allowed purchase of clay targets for resale just as any other business does.

The new policy could put many, if not all, nonprofit trap and skeet clubs out of commission, he said. One example was the Vancouver, Wash., trap club that was the first to be audited under the new policy.

According to Harry Niles, the club’s secretary, Vancouver’s bill for back taxes, penalties and interest will be in excess of $12,000. Niles said the club does not have the cash reserves or income to support such a huge expenditure more than one time.

A remedy to the problem has been proposed by state Sen. Ann Rivers, R-LaCenter, who has introduced a bill to allow nonprofit gun clubs in Washington to pay sales tax when targets are sold to consumers as any other business does.

The legislation, SB5831, is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday by the Senate Ways & Means Committee. The measure has drawn the support of state Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, Bloch said.

In an email to constituents, Hewitt said he had taken part in talks involving Rivers, the Department of Revenue and gun club members from across the state.

“After talks with the department, it became clear that a statutory remedy was necessary to clear up the confusion and avoid a double taxation scenario. I am glad the vehicle is here and I look forward to supporting this bill with my vote,” Hewitt said.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

4 free views left!