CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Feb. 14, 2019) – Yesterday, a West Virginia Senate committee passed a bill that would repeal the sales and use tax on gold and silver bullion. Final passage would eliminate one barrier to using gold and silver in everyday transactions, a foundational step for people to undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
Sen. Craig Blair (R-Martinsburg) introduced Senate Bill 502 (SB502) on Feb. 1. The legislation would exempt the sale of investment metal bullion or investment coins from the state sales and use tax. SB502 defines “investment metal bullion” as “elementary precious metal which has been put through a process of smelting or refining, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, and which is in such a state or condition that its value depends upon its content and not its form.” Investment coins include numismatic coins or other forms of money and legal tender manufactured of gold, silver, platinum, palladium, or other metal and of the United States or any foreign nation with a fair market value greater than any nominal value of such coins.
The Senate Finance Committee approved SB502 on Feb. 13.
A bill pending in the West Virginia House would go further, repealing all state taxes on gold and silver.
With the passage of SB502, West Virginia would take a step toward treating gold, silver, platinum and palladium as money instead of a commodity. As Sound Money Defense League Policy Director Jp Cortez testified during a committee hearing on a similar bill in Wyoming last year, charging taxes on money itself is beyond the pale.
“In effect, states that collect taxes on purchases of precious metals are inherently saying gold and silver are not money at all.”
Imagine if you asked a grocery clerk to break a $5 bill and he charged you a 35 cent tax. Silly, right? After all, you were only exchanging one form of money for another. But that’s essentially what Tennessee’s sales tax on gold and silver bullion does. By removing the sales tax on the exchange of gold and silver, West Virgininia would treat specie as money instead of a commodity. This represents a small step toward reestablishing gold and silver as legal tender and breaking down the Fed’s monopoly on money.
We ought not to tax money – and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money,” former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul said during testimony in support an Arizona bill that repealed capital gains taxes on gold and silver in that state. “Paper is not money, it’s fraud,” he continued.
The proposed law’s impact would go beyond mere tax policy. During an event after his Senate committee testimony, Paul pointed out that it’s really about the size and scope of government.
“If you’re for less government, you want sound money. The people who want big government, they don’t want sound money. They want to deceive you and commit fraud. They want to print the money. They want a monopoly. They want to get you conditioned, as our schools have conditioned us, to the point where deficits don’t matter.”
Practically speaking, eliminating taxes on the sale of gold and silver would crack open the door for people to begin using specie in regular business transactions. This would mark an important small step toward currency competition. If sound money gains a foothold in the marketplace against Federal Reserve notes, the people will be able to choose the time-tested stability of gold and silver over the central bank’s rapidly-depreciating paper currency.
The United States Constitution states in Article I, Section 10, “No State shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” States have simply ignored this constitutional provision for years. It’s impossible for a state to return to a constitutional sound money system when it taxes gold and silver as a commodity.
SB502 would take a step toward establishing gold and silver as legal tender in the state and that constitutional requirement, ignored for decades in every state. This sets the stage to undermine the monopoly of the Federal Reserve by introducing competition into the monetary system.
Constitutional tender expert Professor William Greene said when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes, it could create a “reverse Gresham’s effect,” drive out bad money, effectively nullify the Federal Reserve, and end the federal government’s monopoly on money.
“Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a “reverse Gresham’s Law” effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes). As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state – as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money – and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions.”
Once things get to that point, Federal Reserve notes would become largely unwanted and irrelevant for ordinary people. Nullifying the Fed on a state by state level is what will get us there.
SB502 will no move to the full Senate for further consideration.