Do You Have To Pay A Tax Stamp Every Year?

Paying taxes is an unavoidable reality for most people. But when it comes to certain taxes like the tax stamp on firearms like suppressors or short-barreled rifles, some wonder if it’s a one-time fee or something you have to pay annually.

This is an important question to have answered, especially for gun owners who want to stay in legal compliance.

The quick answer is: No, you do not need to pay the tax stamp on NFA firearms like suppressors every single year. The tax stamp is a one-time $200 fee that is paid when the firearm is first registered.

What is the NFA Tax Stamp?

The NFA Tax Stamp, also known as the National Firearms Act (NFA) tax stamp, is a legal requirement for certain firearms and accessories in the United States. The NFA was enacted in 1934 and regulates the sale, possession, and transfer of firearms that are considered to be particularly dangerous or have a higher potential for misuse.

Definition of the NFA and tax stamp

The NFA Tax Stamp is a physical stamp or a digital equivalent that is issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) upon payment of the required tax. This tax stamp serves as proof that the firearm or accessory in question has been registered under the NFA and is in compliance with the law.

It is important to note that the NFA Tax Stamp is not an annual fee, but rather a one-time payment that is required at the time of purchase or transfer of the firearm or accessory.

What types of firearms require the tax stamp?

Under the NFA, certain firearms and accessories are classified as “Title II” weapons. These include:

  • Short-barreled rifles (SBRs)
  • Short-barreled shotguns (SBSs)
  • Suppressors or silencers
  • Machine guns
  • Any other weapon (AOW) such as disguised firearms or firearms that can be fired from a non-traditional position

These types of firearms and accessories require the NFA Tax Stamp in order to be legally owned, transferred, or manufactured.

Cost of the tax stamp

The cost of the NFA Tax Stamp varies depending on the type of firearm or accessory. As of 2021, the tax stamp for most Title II firearms and accessories is $200. This fee is payable to the ATF at the time of purchase or transfer.

It is worth noting that the $200 tax stamp fee has remained unchanged since the enactment of the NFA in 1934, despite inflation and changes in the cost of living. This has led to some discussions and debates about the fairness and appropriateness of the fee.

For more information on the NFA Tax Stamp and the regulations surrounding it, you can visit the official website of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at

When Do You Have to Pay the Tax Stamp?

Understanding the requirements for paying a tax stamp is crucial for firearm owners in the United States. The payment of a tax stamp is necessary for certain firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

However, it is important to note that the payment is not an annual renewal fee or an ongoing expense.

Only when first registering the NFA firearm

The tax stamp payment is typically required only when initially registering the NFA firearm. This means that when a firearm is first classified as an NFA item, such as a short-barreled rifle or a suppressor, the payment of a tax stamp is necessary.

The purpose of this payment is to ensure compliance with the regulations set forth by the NFA.

Exceptions: transferring ownership or changing configurations

There are exceptions to the requirement of paying a tax stamp every year. If an individual decides to transfer the ownership of an NFA firearm, whether through a private sale or an inheritance, a new tax stamp payment is required.

Similarly, if the configuration of the firearm is altered, such as changing the barrel length or adding additional features, a new tax stamp payment is necessary.

No annual renewal or ongoing payments needed

Contrary to common misconception, once the tax stamp is paid, there is no need for annual renewals or ongoing payments. Once the NFA firearm is registered and the tax stamp is obtained, the owner can continue to possess and use the firearm without any additional payments.

This provides firearm owners with peace of mind and removes the burden of recurring expenses.

It is essential to consult the official regulations and guidelines provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for accurate and up-to-date information regarding tax stamp requirements.

The ATF’s website,, offers comprehensive resources for firearm owners seeking clarification on NFA regulations.

How to Apply and Pay for the Tax Stamp

Applying for and paying for a tax stamp can be a straightforward process if you know what to expect. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Form 4 process through the ATF

The first step in obtaining a tax stamp is to complete the Form 4 application through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This form is used for the transfer of firearms regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA), including items such as suppressors, short-barreled rifles, and machine guns.

The Form 4 requires detailed information about the applicant, the firearm, and the transferor.

Once you have completed the Form 4, you will need to submit it to the ATF along with the appropriate fee. It is important to note that the fee for a tax stamp can vary depending on the type of firearm being transferred.

Fingerprints and photographs required

In addition to the Form 4, you will also need to provide fingerprints and photographs as part of the application process. These can be obtained through a local law enforcement agency or through a private fingerprinting service.

The fingerprints and photographs are used by the ATF to conduct a background check on the applicant.

It is important to ensure that the fingerprints and photographs are taken according to the ATF’s guidelines to avoid any delays in the approval process.

Using a trust vs individual registration

When applying for a tax stamp, you have the option to register as an individual or as part of a trust. There are pros and cons to each method, so it is important to consider your specific circumstances before making a decision.

Registering as an individual requires submitting personal information and undergoing a background check. This method may be more suitable for those who do not plan on sharing the firearm with others or who do not have a trust in place.

On the other hand, using a trust allows multiple people to have access to the firearm without the need for individual background checks. Additionally, a trust may provide additional benefits such as estate planning advantages.

However, setting up a trust can involve additional time and legal expenses.

Average wait times for tax stamp approval today

The wait time for tax stamp approval can vary depending on a number of factors, including the volume of applications being processed by the ATF. Currently, the average wait time for approval is around 9-12 months.

However, it is important to note that this can vary and some applications may be processed more quickly or take longer.

If you are interested in obtaining a tax stamp, it is recommended to plan ahead and be prepared for the potential wait time. This can help to avoid any unnecessary frustration or disappointment during the process.

Ongoing Responsibilities After Paying Tax Stamp

Once you have paid the tax stamp for your firearm, there are several ongoing responsibilities that you need to be aware of. These responsibilities are designed to ensure that you remain in compliance with the law and maintain the proper documentation for your firearm.

Following all applicable state laws

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with and abide by all the applicable state laws regarding firearms. Each state has its own set of regulations and requirements, so it is essential to stay up to date with any changes or updates.

Failure to comply with state laws can result in penalties or even the revocation of your tax stamp.

Proper transportation and storage

When you have a firearm with a tax stamp, it is important to transport and store it safely and securely. This includes using a lockable case or safe, keeping the firearm unloaded during transport, and storing it in a location that is inaccessible to unauthorized individuals.

By practicing responsible firearm storage and transport, you can help prevent accidents and unauthorized use of your firearm.

Notifying ATF if changing address or gun configuration

If you change your address or make any modifications to your firearm that affect its configuration, it is crucial to notify the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). This ensures that your records are updated accurately and that you comply with federal regulations.

Failure to notify the ATF of these changes can result in penalties or even criminal charges.

Renewing tax stamp if transferring firearm ownership

If you decide to sell or transfer ownership of your firearm with a tax stamp, the new owner will need to apply for a new tax stamp in their name. As the current owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the transfer is done legally and that the new owner is eligible to possess the firearm.

Failure to properly transfer ownership can result in legal consequences for both the current and new owners.

It is essential to understand and fulfill these ongoing responsibilities after paying a tax stamp. By staying informed and taking the necessary steps to remain in compliance with the law, you can enjoy the benefits of owning a firearm with a tax stamp while avoiding any legal complications.


The $200 tax stamp on NFA firearms like suppressors and short-barreled rifles is a one-time fee, with a few exceptions. Gun owners do not need to pay it every year. However, proper procedures must be followed when first registering the firearm as well as for any ownership transfers or configuration changes down the road.

Stay up to date on your state and federal responsibilities to remain in legal compliance.

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