March 20, 2020

An Illinois appellate court upheld an ordinance that imposes a firearms and ammunition tax. The court found that while the tax increases the cost of firearms and ammunition, it does not infringe on the ownership of firearms.  Citing the landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, the court held that the taxes are at most a “marginal, incremental or even appreciable restraint” on Second Amendment rights and are constitutional.

The ordinance was enacted in Cook County, Illinois, which encompasses Chicago.  It imposes a $25 tax on firearms sales, a $0.05 per round tax on centerfire ammunition, and a $0.01 per round tax on rimfire ammunition.  These taxes are levied in addition to existing sales tax. The proceeds from these taxes go to a public safety fund.  Veterans and law enforcement officers are exempted. 

Second Amendment supporters, including the plaintiffs, claim that the taxes violate a number of clauses in the Federal and Illinois constitutions. Plaintiffs may appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Illinois and, if necessary, the United States Supreme Court.  Challengers of the ordinance argue that the tax is assessed on their constitutional right to bear arms, and that similar taxes have been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor the legal challenge to Cook County’s taxes, as well as challenges to similar taxes across the country. If you have any questions concerning the above decision, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.