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Ready proposes tax free week for sporting goods

Hunters and fisherman would get a break from paying sales tax on supplies for one week a year starting next April if a bill introduced by Sen. Justin Ready is passed.

Senate Bill 447 aims to establish a sales and use tax exemption period for hunting and sporting goods shopping in Maryland. If passed, the tax exemption would be in effect the third Sunday in April through the following Saturday each year, starting in 2016. A hearing for the bill is set for Wednesday, March 11, at 1 p.m.

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"I heard they were doing it in other states, and I thought it was a good idea," Ready said. "It's a great opportunity for economic stimulus."

According to the Federation of Tax Administrators website, http://www.taxadmin.org/Fta/rate/sales_holiday.html, Louisiana and Mississippi are the only states that have enacted a tax holiday for hunting and sporting goods.

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The tax break proposed by Ready would apply to the sale of firearms, fishing supplies and hunting supplies if the taxable price of the item is less than $1,000.

"I'm all for it," said Shane Fitzgerald, owner of Bow Hunter's Den in Westminster. "I wish they'd do this a couple of times a year."

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data, approximately 445,000 hunters and fishermen spent approximately $820.2 million on hunting and fishing equipment and activities in 2011, for an average of $1,843. Maryland Department of Natural Resources did not have more recent state statistics.

Ready said revenues for small businesses that sell hunting and fishing equipment could increase during the sales tax holiday.

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"Our tax environment for these businesses is not as competitive as in other states," Ready said.

This is the second time that Ready has introduced such a bill, having done so in 2014 as a member of the House of Delegates. That bill didn't get through the House.

Ready hopes the new bill will pass on precedents set by the 2007 special session, which created two annual sales tax free periods: one in February for the purchase of specified Energy Star products and solar hot water heaters and one in August for the purchase of any item of clothing or footwear, excluding accessories, if the taxable price of the item of clothing or footwear is $100 or less.

In a fiscal note attached to the bill, the state Department of Legislative Services estimates the tax holiday would decrease general fund revenues by about $923,800 in fiscal year 2016.

Reach staff writer Michel Elben at 410-857-7873 or michel.elben@carrollcountytimes.com.

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