Why C.A.S.H. Promotes a Dedicated Wildlife Watching Tax that May be Used Only for the Non-Consumptive Appreciation of Wildlife

By Peter Muller

Careful oversight of proposed laws or acts is required

Let’s put taxes into two categories:

1) General Taxes which everybody, every general consumer, pays: such as sales-tax, property-tax, and income tax, which go into the general fund of the taxing authority from which they can be used to cover any kind of government expense: police force, ambulance service, fire-department, highway department etc.

2) Dedicated Taxes paid only by a relatively narrow segment of the population and used for very specific governmental expenditures. For example, a state or county can have a hotel tax at convention hotels, and the funds derived from those taxes is used to promote the state or county as a convention hot-spot.

Most tax-payers will complain about general taxes because we feel that not all the projects that the government is funding with our tax monies are worth doing. So we are constantly up in arms about increasing taxes.

Dedicated taxes are frequently accepted by the tax-payers since they feel that they get a direct benefit from the expenditure of those funds. One hotel on Main Street in Poughkeepsie cannot afford full-page color ads in a national travel magazine. But that hotel is happy to charge a 5% room tax which goes to funding such ads and brings them more clients.

The current 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition is precisely such a dedicated tax which can only be spent to promote hunting and shooting opportunities. This excise tax pumps over $300 million each year into the budgets of the state wildlife regulating agencies. The exact amount per state is determined by a formula depending on the state’s size and the number of hunting licenses sold in the state.

Because of the funding, the state wildlife management agencies see the hunters as their clients whose needs have to be accommodated. This means creating large populations of hunted species, thus creating problems for farmers and orchard owners.

The hunters are not complaining about the 11% excise tax every time they buy a new weapon or ammunition. They know paying that excise tax buys them more targets for next year.

How can we rein-in this cozy deal with the hunters and the wildlife management services?

We suggest that since the hunters are decreasing very rapidly, let’s step in as wildlife watchers, absorb a similar tax on our equipment and gain the right to tell the wildlife management agencies how to spend our dedicated tax revenues to promote a healthy environment that lets us enjoy wildlife recreationally but not consumptively.
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Peter Muller is the VP of C.A.S.H.

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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561
845/256-1400