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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Privately Owned Gun Tax?

Q: Would Senate bill 2099 put a yearly $50 tax on each privately owned firearm?

A: There is no such bill. A chain e-mail containing bogus claims refers to a bill that died more than eight years ago.


Is this one legit?


Senate Bill SB-2099 gun control via IRS?
Yes! That’s what they are doing…

GUN Control via IRS Senate Bill SB-2099 will require us to put on our 2009 1040 federal tax form all guns that you have or own. It may require fingerprints. And a tax of $50 per gun. This bill was introduced on Feb. 24. This bill will Become public knowledge 30 days after it is voted into law.

This is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Act of 1986. This means that the Finance Committee can pass this without the Senate voting on it at all. The full text of the proposed amendment is on the U.S. Senate homepage, http://www.senate.gov/ You can find the bill by doing a search by the bill Number, SB-2099. You know who to call; I strongly suggest you do.


S. 2099 (not "SB" 2099) was introduced Feb. 24, 2000, by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. He called it the "Handgun Safety and Registration Act of 2000," and as the title implies it would have applied only to handguns, not to "all guns you have or own."

It’s true that the bill would have required owners of handguns to register them with the federal government within one year, under the 1934 National Firearms Act (which is part of the Internal Revenue Code). That law requires a federal permit to own a machine gun, a sawed-off rifle or shotgun, or a silencer. Reed said in a news release that in practical terms, handgun owners would need to fill out a registration form, get fingerprinted by local law enforcement officials and obtain a local "Law Enforcement Certification." These would be sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, along with a recent photo (2 inches by 2 inches) and a $5 registration fee.

False Claims

The bill would indeed have required a $50 tax on each handgun, but it would have been a one-time tax, not an annual tax. And it would have been imposed on the manufacturer, not on the owner as erroneously claimed in the e-mail. That cost would no doubt have been passed on to buyers in the form of a higher price for each new handgun, but handgun owners would not have been required to record their guns on their annual federal income tax forms, as wrongly claimed in the e-mail.

Another false claim is that the bill "will become public knowledge 30 days after it is voted into law." In fact, it was public knowledge as soon as Reed introduced it and announced that in the Congressional Record. The claim that the "Finance Committee can pass this without the Senate voting on it at all" is nonsense, as any high-school civics student should know. It would have become law if passed both by the full House and Senate and signed into law by the president.

That didn’t happen. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and it eventually attracted two cosponsors. But when the 106th Congress adjourned at the end of 2000, the bill died without getting so much as a subcommittee hearing, let alone a vote. Reed has not reintroduced the bill since then.

-Brooks Jackson


U.S. Senate. "S. 2099, Handgun Safety and Registration Act of 2000." (as introduced 24 Feb 2000.)

United States Code. "Title 26, National Firearms Act.” 6 Jul 2009.

U.S. Congressional Record. 24 Feb. 2000: S812.