Don't think of a bill exempting clay pigeons from the sales tax as a tax break. Its supporters see it as a battle against double taxation.
The Washington Senate Ways and Means Committee heard testimony Tuesday on La Center Republican Sen. Ann Rivers' bill to exempt clay pigeons sold at nonprofit shooting clubs from retail sales taxes. Shooting clubs pay taxes twice on their clay pigeons — a tangible personal property tax on the clay pigeons because the clubs use them to provide services to customers, plus a retail sales tax when customers buy the pigeons.
"Some clubs are absolutely devastated by this,"said Doug O'Connor of the Poulsbo Sports Club.
Rivers noted that customers buying the clay pigeons never actually touch them since the targets are catapulted into the air, shot at successfully or unsuccessfully, and then stay on a club's grounds afterward — whole or in fragments.
The stakes: $29,000 in lost annual state revenue if the exemption is granted versus what some speakers said will be the death of some shooting ranges.
The state has roughly 300 shooting clubs. The political clout of this segment of the population is hard to gauge.
Alan Kasper of a Bainbridge Island club said the double taxation is too much for some clubs to handle financially, and some might have to close under the status quo. "This would create a noticeable hole in the community. ... It would end youth archery programs. It would end youth pistol programs,"Kasper said.
"We don't want this double taxation," said James Williams of the Pierce County Sportsmen Council. "To raise fees to correct double taxation does not solve the problem."
No one testified against the proposed tax exemption.
For exclusive coverage of the state Legislature, check out Crosscut's Olympia 2013 page.