JTT: Organizing Your [Tax] Stamp Collection

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Just The Tip: Organizing Your [Tax] Stamp Collection

Dave Merrill

The first thing I remember is all the swearing. Then the frantic rustling. A hectic voice said, “I’ll call you right back” before the phone abruptly clicked off. It wasn’t a fight, home invasion or a spousal argument on the other side–it was a friend getting ready to go to the range, only to discover he couldn’t find any of his tax stamps.

There have been discussions in the past about who exactly is legally allowed to ask to see your tax stamps. In general, I think having a copy on hand whenever you have an NFA item with you is absolutely the best policy. I’ve run into situations where range owners wanted to see it (though they may not have a legal right to see it, they also don’t have a legal obligation to let you shoot on their range), and it may satisfy the curiosities of any local law enforcement officials. If you only have a stamp or two, you might not have put a lot of thought into exactly how you’re going to organize and store them. Until you can’t find them.

And I admit, my friend on the phone isn’t alone. Early on I misplaced a copy, only to tear through all my stuff for a couple hours until I found it. It was after that incident that I decided to be a little more proactive.

Your originals you want to keep in a safe place. While I have many friends who store them in fireproof residential security containers, I keep all originals in a bank safe deposit box. They sit there along with my auto titles, DD214, and krugerrands other stuff. The smallest box is all you’ll need and it’s fairly cheap insurance.

Of course and as usual, you’ve got options:

Kinkos Arts & Crafts

Copies of tax stamps are A-OK, and it’s far far better to misplace or lose a copy than the original. What’s more, the copies don’t have to be 100% to scale. I head to my local copy/print shop (pleasantly co-located with a Starbucks) and make full color, two-sided, 50% scaled copies.

If my copy machine wizardry works out right I end up with a perfect copy of the stamp, front and back, on a quarter of the page. But it usually doesn’t work out, and I have to play with glue sticks like my toddler.

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A trip through the lamination machine and a hole punch later, you have a great semi-weatherproof crisp scaled copy of your stamp. I make multiple bundles so I’ll always know where one is; one in the range bag, another in the safe, one in a Pelican–you get the idea. To be honest, the hardest part is collecting all the sets for updating when a new stamp comes in.

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Go Digital

If you managed to get stamps approved via BATFE E-Forms before the new rules negated the process, you’ve noticed that with E-Forms you don’t receive a physical stamp in the mail. Instead, a copy of the approved paperwork shows up in your inbox and you can also access via the BATFE webpage. I know this rubbed some people the wrong way, as there’s just something to that official $200 stamp, but such is life. Aside from being convenient, it also is an effective demonstration that digitizing your stamps is another way to store an infinite number of copies.

I scanned in all of my tax stamps as PDF’s and merged the appropriate pages together. Then I uniquely named them for fast identification if I have to pull one up. If you host them on a place like Dropbox or similar, you’ll be able to access and print them from anywhere.

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If you’re using an NFA trust, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have that ready to go as well.

Conclusions and Loose Rounds

There are people who run variations on this theme, making reduced sized copies to stick in the pistol grip of their SBRs as an example. Personally, I roll with both options listed above. It can take a little time up front if you have many stamps and haven’t gone through the process, but the peace of mind and ease of access makes the juice worth the squeeze. And never again will I have to rummage through a bunch of shit right after moving, just to ensure I have a tax stamp when heading to the range.

-DFM



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About the Author: A combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Dave “Mad Duo Merrill” is a former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. An occasional competitive shooter, he has a strange Kalashnikov fetish the rest of the minions try to ignore. Merrill, who has superb taste in hats, has been published in a number of places, the most awesome of which is, of course, here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He loves tacos, is kind of a dick and married way, way above his pay grade. You can contact him at Merrill(at)BreachBangClear.com and follow him on Instagram here (@dave_fm).

DFM

Emeritus Dave Merrill wrote for Breach-Bang-Clear from late 2013 until early 2017, including a year as its Managing Editor. He departed our ranks in May of 2017 to accept a well-deserved position as social media manager for RECOIL Magazine. He is a combat veteran of the Marine Corps who describes himself as a "...former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men." Merrill's articles are well worth the time it takes to read them - there's a lot of knowledge tucked away in that skull.


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2 thoughts on “JTT: Organizing Your [Tax] Stamp Collection

  • September 28, 2016 at 11:17 pm
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    1/4 sized and laminated with a digital copy on the phone is my way of doing this.

    All that prep and I’ve never been asked for one…

  • September 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm
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    Two more easy options (I do both in addition to having multiple hard copies):

    1. Take photos of them on your phone – always there even if no internet access.

    2. I send digital copies of every stamp to two different email accounts and file them in a “stamp” folder. Not only can I access them on my phone, but anywhere I can get a computer with Internet access.

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