No matter what, if you’re going to buy a suppressor, you’ll be purchasing a tax stamp. And getting that tax stamp approved by the ATF is your golden ticket to getting to use your suppressor. In this blog post, we’ll be answering our most common tax stamp questions that we receive. Whether you’re in the beginning phases of buying a silencer, or you’re at the tail end of your tax stamp wait, we’re here to give you all the details.
What is a suppressor tax stamp?
A suppressor tax stamp is a $200 federal tax that was introduced in 1934 for the purchase of NFA firearms. When it was first implemented, $200 was an astronomical fee that made buying a silencer out of reach for many firearm enthusiasts. While it’s still a thorn in your side to pay a suppressor tax, these days, $200 is more reasonable than it was almost a century ago (thanks, inflation).
When are suppressor tax stamps necessary?
There are two ways to buy suppressors as an individual, and both ways will require a tax stamp with your purchase. You can either buy a suppressor from your FFL dealer, or you can make your own suppressor. Buying a suppressor from an FFL dealer requires you to fill out an ATF Form 4. Making your own suppressor requires an ATF Form 1. No matter the route you choose, you’ll need to purchase a tax stamp for your suppressor.
Now let’s play a game of fact or fiction. If you’re wanting to test your tax stamp prowess, cover the right side of the screen and see if each of these statements is true or false. If you want to read more about why the answer was true or false, click the statement or scroll down to see our expanded answers.
True. Sometimes, we’ll run promotions where we cover the tax stamp for you if you buy a specific silencer (sign up for our newsletter if you’re wanting to be privy to those limited quantity runs). But no matter what, a suppressor tax stamp is an essential purchase before your ATF Form gets shipped to the ATF for review. This means that if you don’t have a tax stamp purchased, your wait for your silencer hasn’t even started yet.
2. I can buy suppressor tax stamps whenever, and when I buy a suppressor, the tax stamp will be added to my purchase.
True. If you’re in our system here at Silencer Shop, you can purchase a tax stamp whenever you want. We’ll even have customers purchase 10 tax stamps so that when the time comes to buy a suppressor, they don’t even have to think about the tax. The more common practice is to buy a suppressor and tax stamp at the same time off of silencershop.com and checkout. At any rate, no matter when you purchase your silencer and tax stamp, as long as they’re both purchased at some point, you’ll be able to move forward with your ATF form.
3. I need to visit a Silencer Shop kiosk to get a tax stamp.
False. You can get a tax stamp off of our site by adding it to your cart and checking out. If you’re already a customer, log in using your credentials. If you’re a new Silencer Shop customer, create an account and follow the same instructions.
4. If I buy a silencer, a tax stamp is automatically added to my account.
False. There isn’t an option right now where you are able to bundle the two together automatically. So at some point, you will need to purchase a silencer and a tax stamp. Beyond the silencer and tax stamp, in order to get your application rolling, there are a few more items you’ll need to complete first. Our How to Buy a Silencer blog post provides a handy checklist for you to keep your application process running smoothly.
5. A tax stamp is different from a trust.
True. We get a lot of confusion between these purchases. In short, tax stamps are per silencer purchase, whereas trusts are either per silencer purchase or a one-time purchase, depending on which trust you choose. We discuss your filing options in another blog post, A Buyer's Guide: Individual vs. Trust, where you can see the distinct differences. The tax stamp payment is specifically to pay the $200 tax and has nothing to do with how you file your suppressors.
6. I can shoot my suppressor while I’m waiting on my tax stamp to be approved.
It depends. While you’re waiting on your tax stamp to be approved by the ATF, some ranges will let you shoot your pending suppressor at their facility. We lovingly refer to these as conjugal visits because you still don’t get to take the suppressor home yet. If you’re wanting to shoot your pending silencer during your wait, call the FFL dealer ahead of your purchase to see if that is allowed at their place of business. Otherwise, you’ll just be left at the counter holding your baby waiting on the day you get your approved tax stamp so you can take it home and shoot it.
7. The ATF wait time doesn’t start until everything is purchased (including my tax stamp).
True. Your tax stamp, silencer, fingerprints, passport-style photo, filing information, and demographic information need to be submitted before we can send you your Form to sign before we ship it off to the ATF. If one or more of these items is missing, we’ll shoot you an email to let you know what we are waiting on.
8. Tax stamp approval times vary.
True. ATF wait times vary greatly depending on the ATF Form being submitted. To check the average wait recently for ATF Form 1s and ATF Form 4s, click here. As you’ll see, there is a window for how long you may be waiting for your tax stamp to get approved. We generally say the best day to buy a suppressor is today because it gets the ball rolling for the ATF process.
9. I will get an email that the ATF has cashed my tax stamp check.
True. The tax stamp that you purchased on silencershop.com will be written out to the ATF and mailed to them. Once they’ve cashed that check, we’ll email you to let you know that it’s been cashed. That’s when the wait truly begins.
10. There is no way to check the status of my suppressor application once the ATF cashes the check.
False. Once the ATF cashes the tax stamp check, they’ll do a thorough review of your application. This is where the wait happens, and where customers wonder where they are in the system. To check your transfer status, give the ATF a call at their NFA Branch: 304.616.4500. When you speak with someone at the ATF, they’ll ask you for your name (or the name of your trust), suppressor’s serial number, and the transferor (this will be in the confirmation email we sent you).
11. My FFL dealer will call me when my suppressor tax stamp is approved.
True. Once the ATF approves your suppressor application, they will send it to your chosen FFL dealer. Your FFL dealer will get a letter in the mail, and they will give you a call to let you know. When you visit the shop to pick up your items, you’ll need to fill out the final paperwork then you’ll be able to take your suppressor home with your approved tax stamp.
12. I have to carry a copy of my approved suppressor tax stamp at all times.
False. You don’t have to carry your tax stamp around in your wallet where a picture of your spouse, kid, or dog is supposed to go. But, wherever your suppressor goes, a copy of the approved paperwork should follow. The keyword here is: COPY. You can’t get another original approved tax stamp, so treat it kindly. We recommend scanning in and making extra paper copies of your tax stamp just to be sure that you’re never without it and the original doesn’t get damaged. Better to be safe than sorry!
13. I can’t shoot my suppressor ever again if I lost my original approved tax stamp.
False. But we recommend you not do anything with the suppressor until you get a copy of your approved tax stamp from the ATF. You still own the silencer, but you do need the paperwork in order to shoot it. Send a letter to the ATF requesting a copy of your tax stamp and they will send a stampless certified copy of your approval. We suggest you scan it and make copies!
14. I can change from Individual to a Trust option without paying another tax stamp.
So now you see that buying a tax stamp is one of the first steps to official suppressor ownership. At the surface, tax stamps might not seem that important, but digging a little deeper you’ll find that they’re truly the lifeblood to your suppressor dreams. Let us know if you have any additional questions about how to get a tax stamp for your suppressor by dropping a comment below.