Wildlife Agency Considers Crossbows as Archery Equipment

While issues are raised about calling crossbow sport as a form of archery, the U.S. wildlife agency says crossbows are archery equipment under taxation laws.

Actually, the tax collected is by virtue of the Pittman-Robertson Act that includes crossbows among the archery shooting equipment subject to excise tax, regardless if for sporting competition or for hunting use. Part of the taxes collected are turned over by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which redistributes them as supplementary funds of state wildlife agencies.

On a state level, the funds are provided to local wildlife agencies to help them manage and restore wildlife habitats, conduct wildlife research, offer hunter education and public access programs, as well as carry out high-priority national wildlife conservation projects.

That being the case, the Archery Trade Association (ATA) considers crossbows as viable hunting and shooting equipment, to which a related definition was ratified by the ATA Board of Directors in March 2016. That way, archery merchants have a clear guide in knowing that crossbows are among the archery equipment subject to Federal Excise Tax (FET).

The ATA Definition Recognizes the Similarity of Crossbows with Other Archery Equipment

The ATA definition acknowledges that as a type of archery equipment, a crossbow does not require the user to exert personal force to keep the string in a fully drawn position after the string has been engaged into a trigger mechanism; and that a crossbow is fired once the user actuates that mechanism.

The trade association’s crossbow definition also recognizes its similarity to other archery equipment, by stating that the

”The actuation of a crossbow’s trigger mechanism releases the string, while the arrow, quarrel or bolt is propelled forward by the resiliency and elastic characteristic of the crossbow’s limbs.” “The propelling force created by the trigger transfers to the arrow, quarrel or bolt by way of direct physical contact with the crossbow string.”

Implication of the FET Tax Among Crossbow Users

When searching for the best crossbows on the market, be in the know that the retail prices of all archery equipment include FET taxes.

Actually, payment of excise taxes starts with manufacturers who are required to pay 10 to 11 % tax on the first sale of hunting and shooting equipment, including ammunition. Manufacturers then pass on the FET they paid to wholesalers, who in turn do the same by passing on the FET to retailers. The latter will then be the last channel by which the related excise taxes are passed on to the end users or consumers, by way of retail prices. .

The Federal Excise Tax on hunting and shooting equipment was legislated by Congress in 1937, under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which is also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. The inclusion of archery equipment and related ammunition was through an amendment legislated in 1972.

In 2003, the IRS updated the FET when it created two separate tax collection schemes for archery equipment:

1  One is the 11% FET imposed on bows, broadheads, quivers and other bow attachments or accessories.

2. The second is a flat rate tax on arrow shafts, but subject to annual adjustments based on the current Consumer Price Index; e.g. 50 cents per shaft.

ATA VP and Chief Conservation Officer Dan Forster explained that FETs provide funds that state fish and wildlife agencies use to ensure that sports hunters and recreational shooters will continue to have professionally and scientifically managed places in which to hunt and pursue animals.