I Smell a VAT

From The 8 Jul 2010 Daily Dispatch

Dear Reader,

In past editions of this service, I’ve advocated tuning your personal radar to pick up early indications that the government is taking an active interest in gold. Especially when that interest revolves around terrorists or tax evaders, two popular bogeymen these days.

It was, therefore, with more than a little concern that I read an article in our Ed Steer’s Gold & Silver Daily service yesterday on an item slid into the legislation authorizing the government takeover of health care. Here’s a snip from Ed’s letter…

The good folks over at numismaster.com report that, starting on January 1st in 2012, U.S. federal law will require coin and bullion dealers to report to the Internal Revenue Service all gold and silver coin purchases and sales greater than $600. The report is written by David L. Ganz and is headlined "$600 Sale? Get Ready for Tax Form."  Apparently this little jewel was an add-on to the national health care legislation. But there’s a new bill being introduced by Rep. Dan Lungren (H.R. 5141), which has gathered over 80 members of Congress as co-sponsors to repeal this section… so we’ll see how that turns out. The link to the story is here.

According to the author of the article Ed references, the rationale for the new regulations is that the taxocrats believe that people conducting off-book trading in precious metals are chiseling them out of $17 billion in lost revenue annually. The net result, however, will be that the government will soon know who’s got the gold.

Can’t a person just keep their gold purchases under $600? With the price of gold heading higher, that will increasingly require buying smaller-denomination bullion coins – which typically carry a higher premium. More importantly, a large body of case law gives the government license to charge people for “structuring” – i.e., taking active measures to get around a particular law. Thus, two $500 gold purchases could be construed as active evasion and carry additional penalties.

Looking to get a better handle on this matter, our own Jeff Clark of Casey’s Gold & Resource Reporta must-have at just $39 a year  – contacted Andy Schectman of the coin dealer Miles Franklin to get his quick take. Here it is…

It would be a logistical nightmare. But it’s not just gold – it’s any and all companies that would be required to file a 1099 for anything over $600. A lot of people feel it won’t pass, and I have a hard time believing it will, too. It would really kill the small businessman; they’d spend their entire time filling out paperwork for the government. Hopefully it won’t pass. Think about this: it might be a precursor to a VAT tax, so they can figure out where the money is coming from. Everyone should contact their congressman and encourage them to not let this pass.

Continuing our mini-investigation, we reached out to another well-informed source who confirmed that the new regs would apply to all businesses. For example, under the new regime a plumber who does work for you in excess of the $600 threshold would be required to file a 1099 report.

That being the case, I have to think that Andy’s got it right – the implications of this move transcend just the precious metals. Rather, this is a deliberate step in the direction of implementing a VAT – once the government has everyone reporting essentially every transaction, taking the next step is a snap.

So what are the odds that the movement to have this clause repealed will succeed? In my opinion, given the sheer quantity of new regulations embedded in the new health care legislation, most of which is equally wrong-headed, the administration and its allies are certain to take a hard line about making changes. Simply, once the hard shell of the legislation is cracked open, great swaths of the thing will be subject to being picked apart.

David Galland
Managing Director
Casey Research

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