ATF Ruling 93-2
Advice has been requested whether a barreled action is taxable for purposes of the excise tax imposed by section 4181, Title 26 U.S.C. The excise tax attaches to the sale of complete firearms, pistols and revolvers or to sales of such articles which although in a knockdown condition are complete as to all component parts.
The action of a firearm is that portion containing the breech mechanism by which the firearm is loaded, fired, and unloaded and includes the frame or receiver. A barreled action consists of an action to which a barrel has been attached, usually by threading the forward portion of the action to receive the barrel. A barreled action does not include a stock or grip and cannot be held and fired in the same manner as a complete firearm.
In Revenue Ruling 55-175, 1955-1 C.B. 562, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held that the provisions of section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code did not apply to a "barrel action," comprised of the barrel with front and rear sights; front and rear stock bands; receiver with complete bolt, trigger action, magazine, etc., complete except for the stock. However, the ruling held that a "barrel action" is a firearm for purposes of the Federal Firearms Act. This Revenue Ruling was declared obsolete by Revenue Ruling 72-178, 1972-1 C.B. 423, because the ruling was, in whole or in part (underlining added), no longer applicable to the current law and regulations. The Federal Firearms Act was repealed and replaced by the Gun Control Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C. Chapter 44) which defines "firearm" to include the frame or receiver of a firearm.
ATF will be consistent with the position taken by the IRS that barreled actions are not firearms for purposes of section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code. This position further reaffirms the IRS position taken in Revenue Rulings 54-98, 1954-1 C.B. 264, 56-208, 1956-1 C.B. 510, and 62-169, 1962-2 C.B. 245, that the excise tax imposed under section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code applies only to the sale of complete firearms or unassembled firearms sold as kits which are complete as to all component parts.
Held: A barreled action is not a firearm for purposes of the manufacturers excise tax on firearms imposed by section 4181, Title 26, U.S.C.
26 U.S.C. Section 4181 and 27 CFR 53.11: Definition of Firearm.