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Missouri Bill Would Take Steps Toward Treating Gold and Silver as Money

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A bill introduced in the Missouri Senate for the 2023 legislative session would take important steps toward treating gold and silver as money instead of as commodities and would set the stage for currency competition in the Show-Me State.

Sen. William Eigel (R) filed SB100 last month. The legislation would take several steps to encourage the use of gold and silver as money in Missouri, including making it legal tender, eliminating the state capital gains tax on gold and silver, and establishing a state bullion depository.

Legal Tender and Tax Reforms

Under the proposed law, gold and silver would be accepted as legal tender and would be receivable in payment of all public and private debts contracted for in the state of Missouri. Practically speaking, this would allow Missourians to use gold or silver coins as money rather than just as mere investment vehicles. In effect, it would put gold and silver on the same footing as Federal Reserve notes.

Missouri could become the fourth state to recognize gold and silver as legal tender. Utah led the way, reestablishing constitutional money in 2011. Wyoming and Oklahoma have since joined.

The effect has been most dramatic in Utah where United Precious Metals Association (UMPA) was established after the passage of the Utah Specie Legal Tender Act and the elimination of all taxes on gold and silver. UPMA offers accounts denominated in US-minted gold and silver dollars. The company was also instrumental in the development of the “Utah Goldback,” described as “the first local, voluntary currency to be made of a spendable, beautiful, physical gold.”

SB100 would also exempt the sale of gold and silver bullion from the state’s capital gains tax. Missouri is already one of 41 states that do not levy sales tax on gold and silver bullion. Exempting the sale of bullion from capital gains taxes takes another step toward treating gold and silver as money instead of commodities. Taxes on precious in metal bullion disincentivize investment and erect barriers to using gold and silver as money by raising transaction costs.

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 a sales tax on gold and silver bullion does. By eliminating this tax on the exchange of gold and silver, Virginia 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 US 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 includes a provision that would bar any state agency, department, or political subdivision from seizing gold or silver bullion.

Bullion Depository

SB100 would also establish a state bullion depository. This would not only create a safe place to store precious metals; it also has the potential to facilitate the everyday use of gold and silver in financial transactions in Missouri.

The depository would be established in the Office of the State Treasurer. The depository would serve as “the custodian, guardian and administrator of gold, silver and other precious metals transferred or acquired by the state, or an agency, political subdivision or other instrumentality of the state.” The depository would also accept deposits of gold and silver by private individuals.

Significantly, SB100 would establish a mechanism for individuals to engage in transactions using precious metals including gold and silver.

The legislation creates a regulatory structure for the depository and all transactions facilitated through it. It also establishes criteria for depository agents.

The bill is based on a similar law that was passed in Texas and signed into law by Gov. Abbott in 2015. The Texas depository received its first deposits in the summer of 2018. The following year, the state exempted precious metals in these depositories from taxation.

In a nutshell, through the depository, Missourians would be able to deposit gold or silver and pay other people through electronic means or checks. Private individuals and entities will be able to purchase goods and services using assets in the vault in the same way they use cash today. Doing so has the potential to open the market to sound money in day-to-day transactions. Ultimately, depositors could be able to use a bullion-funded debit card that seamlessly converts gold and silver to fiat currency in the background. This will enable them to make instant purchases wherever credit and debit cards are accepted.

Practically speaking, all of the provisions in SB100 would open the door for people to begin using specie in regular business transactions. This marks an important small step toward currency competition.

BACKGROUND

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.” Currently, all debts and taxes in the US are either paid with Federal Reserve Notes (dollars) which were authorized as legal tender by Congress, or with coins issued by the US Treasury — very few of which have gold or silver in them.

The Federal Reserve destroys this constitutional monetary system by creating a monopoly based on its fiat currency. Without the backing of gold or silver, the central bank can easily create money out of thin air. This not only devalues your purchasing power over time; it also allows the federal government to borrow and spend far beyond what would be possible in a sound money system. Without the Fed, the US government wouldn’t be able to maintain all of its unconstitutional wars and programs. The Federal Reserve is the engine that drives the most powerful government in the history of the world.

Sales tax repeals knock down one of the tax barriers that hinder the use of gold and silver as money, and could also begin the process of abolishing the Federal Reserve’s fiat money system by attacking it from the bottom up – pulling the rug out from under it by working to make its functions irrelevant at the state and local levels, and setting the stage to undermine the Federal Reserve monopoly by introducing competition into the monetary system.

In a paper presented at the Mises Institute, Constitutional tender expert Professor William Greene said when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes, it would 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.

This bill make up part of a broader movement at the state level to support sound money.

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