By Mike Maharrey
Two bills prefiled in the South Carolina House for the 2023 legislative session would take important steps toward treating gold and silver as money instead of commodities, and would set the stage to undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
Rep. Stewart Jones (R) and Rep. Josiah Magnuson (R) filed House Bill 3080 (H3080) on Dec. 8. The legislation would make gold and silver coins legal tender in the state. Under the proposed law, “gold and silver coins minted foreign or domestic shall be legal tender in the State of South Carolina under the laws of this State. No person or other entity may compel another person or other entity to tender or accept gold or silver coin unless agreed upon by the parties.”
Practically speaking, this would allow South Carolina residents to use gold or silver coins as money rather than just as a mere investment vehicle. In effect, it would put gold and silver on the same footing as Federal Reserve notes.
The phrase, “unless agreed upon by the parties” has important legal ramifications. This wording reaffirms the court’s ability, and its constitutional responsibility according to Article I, Section 10, to require specific performance when enforcing such contracts. If voluntary parties agree to be paid, or to pay, in gold and silver coin, South Carolina courts could not substitute any other thing, e.g. Federal Reserve Notes, as payment.
The proposed law would also effectively repeal the capital gains tax on all gold and silver coins designated as legal tender.
South Carolina 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 U.S.-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.”
Jones also prefiled House Bill 3081 (H3081). The legislation would effectively exempt the sale of gold, silver, and platinum bullion from state capital gains taxes. This would include bullion coins and bars.
KNOCKING DOWN BARRIERS
South Carolina 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 metal bullion erect barriers to using gold and silver as money by raising transaction costs. As Sound Money Defense League policy director Jp Cortez testified during a committee hearing on a similar bill in Wyoming in 2018, 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 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 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 impact of enacting this legislation will 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 cracks open the door for people to begin using specie in regular business transactions. This marks an important small step toward currency competition.
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 South Carolina are either paid with Federal Reserve Notes (dollars) which were authorized as legal tender by Congress or with coins issued by the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Repealing taxes on gold and silver also takes the first step in the process of abolishing the Federal Reserve 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. Nullifying the Fed on a state-by-state level is what will get us there.
H3080 and H3081 will be officially introduced when the South Carolina legislature convenes on Jan. 10. H3080 will be referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. H3081 will be referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The bills must get a hearing and pass their respective committees by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.