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Who can ask to see my tax stamp?

John Pierce

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 5, 2006
Messages
1,776
I tell all of my clients to keep a copy of both their approved tax stamps and their NFA trust on them at all times they are in possession of their NFA items.

But if you follow that advice to its logical conclusion it assumes that you may have to show it to someone at some point.

So … who exactly does have the right to ask to see your approved tax stamp?

Let’s start with the obvious. What about ATF agents?

Well … the Form 1 and Form 4 both give us a big clue. On the back of both forms it says “This approved application is the registrant’s proof of registration and it shall be made available to any ATF officer upon request.”

The authority for this assertion is 26 U.S.C. § 5841(e) which states that you are required to “retain proof of registration which shall be made available to the [ATF acting in their official capacity] upon request.”

Therefore, any ATF agent has the authority to ask to see your approved tax stamp.

But what about local and state law enforcement officers?

Well … let me start by noting that my practice is limited to Virginia and this advice is intentionally limited to Virginia law. Having said that, under Virginia law, most NFA items are banned but have an exception for items possession in conformity with federal law.

For example, short-barreled rifles and short-barreled shotguns are both generally banned under § 18.2-300.

§ 18.2-300. Possession or use of “sawed-off” shotgun or rifle.

A. Possession or use of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a crime of violence is a Class 2 felony.

B. Possession or use of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle for any other purpose, except as permitted by this article and official use by those persons permitted possession by § 18.2-303, is a Class 4 felony.

And the exception for these items possessed in conformity with federal law is contained in § 18.2-303.1.

§ 18.2-303.1. What article does not prohibit.

Nothing contained in this article shall prohibit or interfere with the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle for scientific purposes, the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle possessed in compliance with federal law or the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle not usable as a firing weapon and possessed as a curiosity, ornament, or keepsake.

Therefore, a local or state law enforcement officer would have the right to ask to see the approved tax stamp and failure to provide it would be evidence of a violation of state law.

Is there anyone else? What about range safety officers at a range?

There are certainly numerous anecdotes on the internet about RSOs asking to see the tax stamp for an NFA item that is being fired at a commercial range.

In this case however, the answer is ‘No’. They do not have a legal right to see your tax stamp. But … as a private property actor, what they do have is the right to ask you to leave if they ask and you refuse.

For more information see this post at my law practice blog.
 

MAC702

Campaign Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
6,337
Location
Nevada
...]Therefore, any ATF agent has the authority to ask to see your approved tax stamp....
But like the IRS demanding to see your last 1040, shouldn't that just mean you can bring it by their office later? They are a tax revenue agency, not supposed to be a SWAT team, after all.

Same as the ATF and the bound book of an FFL C&R licensee, right?
 
Last edited:

skidmark

Campaign Veteran
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
10,449
Location
Valhalla
But like the IRS demanding to see your last 1040, shouldn't that just mean you can bring it by their office later? They are a tax revenue agency, not supposed to be a SWAT team, after all.

Same as the ATF and the bound book of an FFL C&R licensee, right?
I don't think that this means you must produce it immediately ...
Make sure the person you make your one phone call to knows who has the combination/access code to your records so they can bring the paperwork down to wherever it is you are being held.

No, it aint right. But what's right and what happens are often two entirely different things. Just like what's not right and what you get a verdict of violating your constitutional rights are different things.

I read a lot of folks who say "My interpretation is I don't have to do it that way" or "The proper interpretation is not what the courts say but ___." I just don't see a lot of those folks posting their experiences when they deal with The Man based on those notions. And most of those that do post about their experiences after their day(s) in court.

John is an attorney, but he is not my - or your - attorney. There is some chance he could be held liable for giving bad legal advice even when he did not sell it to you.*

stay safe.

* - Anybody can give legal advice. Only attorneys can sell it. And even when they do sell it to you they try to put the responsibility for acting on that advice squarely on your shoulders. Sort of like those warning labels that say use of the product not in accordance with the instructions is a crime.
 

jfrey123

Regular Member
Joined
May 13, 2008
Messages
471
Location
Sparks, NV, Nevada, USA
I think John's assessment of local LEO is spot on (depending on where you live). Virginia sounds similar to Nevada, where SBR's, SBS's, suppressors and the like are prohibited by state law and exemptions are made for those with Federal permits or stamps. Under that, if a cop in Nevada sees you with an SBR, I'd reckon that would give him probable cause to stop and talk to you since SBR's are illegal unless you have the exemption. Once you show the exemption, officer may leave.
 

skidmark

Campaign Veteran
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
10,449
Location
Valhalla
I think John's assessment of local LEO is spot on (depending on where you live). Virginia sounds similar to Nevada, where SBR's, SBS's, suppressors and the like are prohibited by state law and exemptions are made for those with Federal permits or stamps. Under that, if a cop in Nevada sees you with an SBR, I'd reckon that would give him probable cause to stop and talk to you since SBR's are illegal unless you have the exemption. Once you show the exemption, officer [strike]may[/strike] should leave.
FIFY

IMHO if you are going to let Officer Friendly shoot up a magazine you ought to make him pay for the ammo. Cash only - never accept a "replacement" box from out of his glovebox/trunk.

stay safe.
 
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