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West Virginia Legislature Approves Measure to Repeal Sales Tax on Gold and Silver Bullion

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The West Virginia legislature has approved a bill that would take an important first step towards treating gold and silver like money instead of a commodity by repealing sales and use taxes on bullion.

Sen. Craig Blair (R-Martinsburg) sponsored Senate Bill 502 (SB502). The proposed law 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.” It defines investment coins to 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 West Virginia Senate passed SB502 by a vote of 33-0. The House concurred by a 90-9 vote. If Gov. Jim Justice signs the bill, it will go into effect July 1.

Enactment of this law would eliminate a barrier to investing in gold and silver and enable West Virginians to better protect themselves from the inflationary practices of the Federal Reserve.

Several other states are considering legislation to repeal taxes on gold and silver, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Kansas.

IN PRACTICE

Fundamentally,  gold and silver are money. But most governments treat precious metals as a commodity. They don’t accept it as payment. Worse than that, they tax it. Think about the absurdity of this policy.

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 West Virginia’s sales tax on gold and silver bullion does. By removing the sales tax on the exchange of gold and silver, West 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.

Former Congressman Ron Paul testified during in support of a bill to eliminate capital gains taxes on gold and silver that passed in Arizona in 2017.

We ought not to tax money – and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money.”

Paul has been a vocal supporter of this movement. He produced a video urging the Wyoming governor to sign a 2018 bill that repealed all taxes on gold and silver. He noted that things move agonizingly slow in Washington D.C. Passing bills like this at the state level are an important step toward real monetary reform.

“It’s just to me sad that we are so far removed from the Constitution. But a little bit here and a little bit there, there is going to be a revolution in monetary policy.”

Paul emphasized that monetary reform is an important step toward reducing the power of the federal government.

“Believe me, the size and scope and interference of government would change a whole lot if we could rein in the monetary system, rein in the Federal Reserve and rein in this spending.”

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.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

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 tales 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.

Information from the Tenth Amendment Center contributed to this report. 

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