2023 Q4
Sunday, December 31, 2023
Section: 2023




Association News

Have You Renewed Your Membership For 2024?

The 2024 membership renewal period started on October 1, 2023. If you are a Concerned Collectors Coalition member, your membership automatically renewed on January 1, 2024.

For paid members, unless you have already renewed, your membership expired December 31, 2023, and you are currently in a grace period.

Renew Your Membership Now: Renew Membership

Alternatively, you can send your invoice and payment by mail to:

National Coin & Bullion Association
PO Box 237
Dacula, GA 30019

Explore each level’s membership benefits and consider upgrading to a higher tier! Learn more at Membership Benefits.

The National Coin & Bullion Association is grateful for your support.

Welcome New Members!

(And thank you, referrers!)

The following joined NCBA between October 1 and December 31, 2023:

  • Bronze
    • Erika Wolter, COINSPlus (Spokane, WA); referred by Kevin Wolter
  • Cooper
    • Jeff Jackson, Beatrice Gold & Silver (Beatrice, NE)
    • Carl Chapman, Sedona Bullion (Sheridan,, WY)
    • Jon Sullivan, Sullivan Numismatics (Land O Lakes, FL)
    • Braedon Young, Brighton Enterprises (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
  • Basic
    • Mehreen Mir, Bullion.com (Wilmington, DE)
    • Jim Smith, C-Gold Technologies (Los Angeles, CA)
    • F. Bruce Cohen, Jackson Gold Capital (Chicago, IL); referred by APMEX
    • Walter Holmes, Millyard Coins and Cards (Manchester, NH)
    • Tom Noe, Thomas W. Noe (Sylvania, OH)
  • Concerned Collectors Coalition
    • Barry Benjamin (OH)
    • Ed Jolly (NY)
    • Jody Dotson (AR)

Message from executive director David Crenshaw

IMEX 2023: Tennessee Welcomes the World of Coins
I am thrilled to share with you the exhilarating experience we had at the inaugural International Money Exposition (IMEX) opening ceremony in Nashville on October 27. Our colleague, Pat Heller, and I had the privilege of introducing Senator Frank Niceley and Representative Bud Hulsey, who played pivotal roles in our seven-year journey to secure a sales-tax exemption for coins, currency, and bullion in Tennessee.

Senator Niceley and Representative Hulsey showed remarkable persistence through multiple assembly sessions to secure the coins, currency, and bullion sales- and use-tax exemption in Tennessee. The support we received from them has been immeasurable, and their insights shared during the ceremony shed light on the significance of our collective efforts. Their dedication to our cause has been instrumental, and we express our deepest gratitude for their ongoing support.

The IMEX opening ceremony was a momentous occasion, marking not only a significant international numismatic event but also the celebration of a historic legislative achievement. During my remarks there, I emphasized the monumental nature of this achievement and the dedication of everyone involved. Seven years of unwavering advocacy, collaboration, and dedication brought us to that triumphant day. The journey leading to IMEX underscores the power of dedication and advocacy in shaping legislation and the future of our industry.

As we reflect on this achievement, it is evident that NCBA, along with the Tennessee Precious Metals, Coin & Currency Coalition, has played a crucial role in driving success. This is a testament to the strength of our community and the impact we can have when working together towards a common goal.

In commemoration of this special event and as a token of appreciation for your continued support of NCBA, we are delighted to make available a PDF copy of the booklet, “Effort to Gain the Tennessee Coin, Currency, and Bullion Tax Exemption: A Comprehensive Timeline.” The informative content, meticulously designed by Mark Masat, Senior Art Director at Heritage Auctions, speaks to our shared achievements. Special recognition is also due to Denice Brackemyre, Head of the Art Department at Heritage Auctions, and NCBA’s editor, Peyton Smith, who contributed significantly to the project through their leadership and attention to detail.

I extend my sincere gratitude to each of you for your continued support. Our success in Tennessee exemplifies the positive influence NCBA has on our community and industry. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this achievement further, please feel free to reach out.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey.
 

Message from chair Patrick I. Perez

It’s hard to believe I’ve already completed my first year as the chair of NCBA’s Board of Directors! Throughout this past year, barely a week has passed without a reminder of our association’s crucial work. At the IMEX coin show in Nashville last October, our executive director, David Crenshaw, presented attendees with an incredibly detailed account of the process for obtaining a sales-tax exemption in Tennessee. I highly encourage any interested member to request either a physical copy of the publication or a digital version—it’s very enlightening.

As we step into the new year, NCBA finds itself in an excellent position membership-wise, with consistent membership retention over the past 12 months. We’re immensely grateful for the support of all our members, especially those who upgraded their membership tier.

The year 2024 for our association kicks off in earnest the first week of January at the FUN show in Orlando with our general board meeting. I want to highlight that while this meeting is typically only attended by board members, it’s open to all NCBA members—an aspect that might not be widely known.

FUN is a busy event for everyone, but I want to extend a personal invitation to all members to attend our meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 3, at 8:00 a.m. If you’re interested, please reach out to David or me.

Once again, thank you for your unwavering support of NCBA!
 

Upcoming Events

Navigating the New Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 Regulations, Part 2
The National Coin & Bullion Association is excited to extend an exclusive invitation to all coin-business-owner attendees of the upcoming 2024 FUN Convention! We’ve organized an insightful seminar dedicated to exploring the intricacies of the freshly introduced regulations that make up the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act of 2020. Led by none other than Gary Knaus, a distinguished authority in AML, this session promises to provide valuable insights into the potential impact of these regulations on our dynamic numismatic and precious-metals bullion community.

It is clear from recent Department of Treasury updates that understanding the nuances of these changes is paramount to safe and successful business practices. This seminar offers a unique opportunity to delve into the specifics of these changes, ensuring a comprehensive grasp of the regulations and their potential implications for your business.

Gary Knaus, a long-standing member of NCBA, brings years of practical wisdom to the table. Since 2012, he has been actively engaged in providing AML compliance services to bullion, coin, and jewelry dealers. His expertise will serve as a guiding beacon, helping us navigate the complexities of the new regulations and readying our businesses for continued developments in our industry’s landscape.

We urge all dealers participating in the convention to make this seminar a priority. Staying informed is pivotal in today’s evolving legal landscape, and this is your opportunity to be proactive in equipping yourself with crucial knowledge. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 10:15 a.m. in room N320E of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

For those who attended the ANA World’s Fair of Money in August 2023, you know that Part 1 of this seminar series was an enlightening experience. If you missed it, don’t worry—a video of the seminar is available to view on our website (exclusively for NCBA dealer-members). We value our NCBA members and their commitment to staying informed.

For those eager to learn more about the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 and its implications, we recommend reading the articles “The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020” in Member News, 2021 Q1 (exclusively for NCBA members), and “What Does Anti-Money Laundering Have to Do with My Company?” on our website.

We appreciate your engagement and enthusiasm. We’re excited to welcome you to this significant seminar and anticipate a constructive exchange of insights as we navigate these regulatory waters together.
 

NCBA Board of Directors Meeting

A board of directors meeting will commence at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at the Florida United Numismatists Convention in the Orange County Convention Center North/South Building, meeting room N330AB.

General membership participation and engagement are invaluable to the growth and success of our association.

Member Attendance Guidelines:
  • Membership Status: Please ensure your membership dues are up-to-date to attend.
  • RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by January 2, 2024 for logistical purposes.
  • Participation: Opportunities for member input will be provided during designated segments of the meeting.
  • Meeting Conduct: Respectful adherence to meeting protocols is appreciated.
Your involvement is crucial to shaping our association's future. We eagerly anticipate your active participation and valuable contributions during the meeting.

For inquiries or to RSVP, please contact executive director David Crenshaw via ncba@ncbassoc.org.
 

Update Your Member Profile

Stay connected with NCBA through our website at nationalcoinandbullionassoc.org. We ask that you take a moment to update your member profile via the Home page sign-in. If you do not know your username or password, from the Home page select “Forgot Your Password” to retrieve them.

Concerned Collectors Coalition members (formerly “Consumer Patrons”) should add your state and federal legislators to your profile. CLICK HERE to find your legislators—remember, they may have changed following the November election.

By keeping your member profile up to date, you are guaranteed access to all the exclusive benefits and resources that an NCBA membership offers:
  • Member-only resources specifically for dealers, available online at nationalcoinandbullionassoc.org
  • Federal and state legislative alerts and other important communications
  • Discounts on valuable cash- and broker-reporting information kits
  • Professional development educational seminars
  • Access to the online Member News quarterly newsletters
Should you need any assistance or have any questions or comments about your membership and/or benefits, please feel free to contact us at (678) 430-3252 or by email at ncba@ncbassoc.org.
 

Essential Resources for Your Business

NCBA provides essential information to help you with cash and broker reporting. Copper and above members get a 50% discount off the listed price.

Cash-Reporting Kit ($200): The information provided by NCBA is intended to assist dealers in understanding the regulations on cash reporting and money laundering. This information is designed to be used in conjunction with the advice of your professional tax advisor.

Broker-Reporting Kit ($100): (Update coming soon) The information provided by NCBA is based on our discussions with the Internal Revenue Service to identify investment-level or other substantial transactions that could generate tax consequences. You should also consult with your tax advisor.

Consumer Information Kit ($50): This information has been produced in response to many questions from consumers regarding what products and circumstances require transactions be reported to the U.S. Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service.

CLICK HERE to order information kits.
 

Member Benefits

Logo Display and Table Runner Options
Members in the Individual Dealers and Company membership tiers will receive an “NCBA MEMBER” logo prominently displayed on their booth sign at participating shows. Additionally, they are granted logo usage rights in accordance with the terms and conditions outlined in the logo-use agreement (signature required).

Gold and Platinum members also receive a custom table runner featuring the “NCBA MEMBER” logo, which they can proudly display over their existing table covering during shows.

For Basic through Silver members, there is an option to purchase a table runner for $200, including shipping. A signed logo-use agreement is required for this purchase.

CLICK HERE to order a table runner.
 

Draw More Exposure for Your Company

Would you like members and visitors to our website to see your company’s message? Would you like to capture the attention of NCBA members in our newsletter, Member News?

Help your company stand out with an advertisement in the advertising carousel and/or Member News. The “Our Sponsors” carousel on our website displays each ad in rotation for approximately five seconds. A carousel advertisement is a free benefit for Bronze-level members and above. Advertising in Member News, which is sent to all NCBA members every quarter, is also a great way to get your message out.

CLICK HERE for more information.
 

Not Receiving Our Emails?

Typically, when members don’t see our emails in their inboxes, it’s due to junk-mail and spam filtering by their Internet service provider and/or email software. Check your email’s spam or junk folders and add ncba@ncbassoc.org to your email’s contacts or address book so future emails get through. If you still don’t see our emails, please contact us at ncba@ncbassoc.org, so we may investigate further.
 

States’ News

Presently, 42 states have complete or partial sales-tax exemptions on in-state retail sales of collector coins and precious-metals coins and bullion. Of those states, five (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon) have no state sales tax at all, while the other 36 have enacted legislation and adopted regulations to exempt such merchandise. That leaves eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia who do not exempt retail sales of coins, currency, and precious-metals bullion from sales tax. Any member who would like to start a sales-tax exemption initiative in one of these remaining states or the District of Columbia should please email ncba@ncbassoc.org.
 

Alaska

House Bill 3, “Gold and Silver Specie as Legal Tender,” achieved passage in the House on May 11, 2023, with a vote count of 25 Yeas to 15 Nays. Subsequently, the bill underwent the engrossment process, was duly signed by the speaker and chief clerk, and was subsequently forwarded to the Senate for their consideration. The Senate officially received the bill on May 12, where it underwent its initial reading and was referred to the State Affairs Committee for further evaluation.

The first regular session of the 33rd Legislature for the years 2023–2024 adjourned on May 17, with legislators slated to return January 2024. As legislators are preparing to return to work, we encourage Alaskans to reach out to Senator Scott Kawasaki, the Chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee. They can communicate their support for HB 3 via calls, emails, or written correspondence, urging him to champion this vital legislation. A sample letter is available here. While the sample letter provides guidance, individuals should personalize their message to reflect their unique perspectives and circumstances. Your active involvement in this advocacy effort is greatly appreciated.
 

Kentucky

As noted in our last newsletter, the legislative session came to a close on Thursday, March 30, 2023, with no further action taken to reinstate the sales-tax exemption removed from HB 360. While this outcome was disappointing, the brief session did offer the Kentucky coin and bullion dealer coalition an opportunity to educate lawmakers on the widespread support for this policy and the adverse effects of the tax on Kentucky’s dealers.

In May, local coalition leaders, including Byrd Saylor, and NCBA convened to strategize the next steps. We remain optimistic that our third attempt at passing a bill in the 2024 legislative session will prove successful. Your continued support and dedication are invaluable as we work towards achieving our objectives.

For more information or to contribute toward the lobbyist fees and other campaign expenses, please contact Byrd Saylor at (502) 584-9879 or bsaylor@louisvillenumismatic.com.
 

Minnesota

In the last newsletter, we reported Representative Bjorn Olson introduced HF 106, a bill that seeks to modify sales- and use-tax provisions and expand exemptions for precious-metal bullion, including coins and other forms of currency. Currently, this bill has been referred to the House Taxes Committee.
Similarly, HF 106’s companion bill in the Senate, SF 373—introduced by Senator Rich Draheim—aims to authorize a sales- and use-tax exemption on precious-metals bullion, including coins and other forms of currency. This bill is awaiting further action in the Senate Taxes Committee.

As a reminder, the 93rd Legislature (2023–2024) is currently adjourned and is scheduled to reconvene on February 12, 2024. We will continue to monitor the progress of these bills and provide updates as they develop. Your support and advocacy are greatly appreciated as we work towards achieving these important legislative goals.

For more information or to volunteer to help with the local campaign efforts, please contact NCBA at (678) 430-3252 or email ncba@ncbassoc.org.

Minnesota Bullion Coin Dealers Law Update
On August 31, 2022, judges L. Steven Grasz, Bobby E. Shepard, and Jonathan A. Kobes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, issued an opinion in favor of plaintiff Tom Styczinski in his case against the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

As a result of this ruling, a representative of the Minnesota Department of Commerce stated that the Department of Commerce has paused its regulatory activities with respect to Minnesota Statutes Chapter 80G (which governs bullion product dealer licensing) at this time. The department will provide additional communications regarding Chapter 80G and its licensing requirements once the legal proceedings have concluded.

We reached out again to Commerce for an update last December. The department is currently not enforcing the law as it waits for direction from the court, which held a hearing with the lawyers on November 27, 2023, to decide on severability. Any further updates will be communicated to our members. Stay tuned!

A copy of the complaint, filed September 22, 2020, in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, by attorney Erick Kaardal of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A. on behalf of Tom Styczinski, d/b/a Tom “The Coin Guy,” LLC; Treasure Island Coins, Inc.; and Numismatist United Legal Defense, in Thomas John Styczinski, et al. v. Grace Arnold, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, is available to read here.

The plaintiffs of this lawsuit invited NCBA to be a named plaintiff on the lawsuit. Since NCBA originally collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Commerce for two years on amending this erroneous coin-and-bullion-dealer law, NCBA could not in good conscience become a named plaintiff on this lawsuit. However, NCBA does recognize the importance in challenging the constitutionality of this statue and ultimately repealing this law because it is preempted by federal statutory law. Therefore, NCBA believes it is best to follow the litigation but not participate. For more information, see Member News, 2020 Q3 article, “Small Business Investors, Hobbyists Sue Minnesota for Criminalizing Their Pursuits.”
 

Nevada

We are pleased to share the latest developments in our ongoing efforts to reform Nevada’s tax regulations. Last year, dedicated NCBA member Scott Schwartz, representing Fidelitrade, Delaware Depository in Boulder City, tirelessly worked to secure additional financial support for our lobbying initiatives. This endeavor led us to a pivotal connection with member Allen Rowe (Northern Nevada Coin, Carson City) that is allowing us to explore new avenues for our campaign.

At the heart of the campaign is the goal to bring clarity to Nevada Administrative Code § 372.170, which pertains to coins, stamps, and bullion. While this regulation hinted at the potential for a sales- and use-tax exemption for retail sales of bullion coins, there existed a significant misconception in the text regarding the intrinsic value of bullion coins. The statute currently only exempts sales of coins sold for less than 150% of face value.

We are embarking on a mission to not only clarify this regulation but also expand its scope to encompass other types of coins, forms of currency, and precious-metals bullion. However, this expansion presents a critical question: How do we present this legislation in a way that demonstrates its positive impact on revenue? How can we succinctly convey to the Nevada tax commissioner and legislators that this proposed exemption will be a net-positive generator for the state?

Our approach with legislators centers on the belief that this exemption will promote job creation, spur economic development, and enhance tax fairness within the state. To support these arguments, we have amassed a wealth of resources that will enable us to effectively advocate for this exemption. Moreover, we have the unique opportunity to engage with the state’s fiscal agency in advance of introducing a bill, which positions us favorably for a successful campaign.

We invite all members to stay engaged and support our efforts to bring clarity and common-sense change to Nevada’s tax regulations. Together, we can achieve a fair and equitable tax system that benefits all stakeholders and strengthens our industry. We look forward to updating you on our progress in the coming months. For more information, please contact Scott Schwartz at (302) 483-4656 or email sschwartz@delawaredepository.com.
 

New Jersey

Last quarter, we reported a significant development in New Jersey legislation concerning Assembly bill A5294. The bill seeks to exempt sales of investment metal bullion and investment coins from sales and use taxes. Initially referred to the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee, it was later transferred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

On November 13, 2023, plans were set in motion to address the amendments requested by the state Treasury, particularly to request the removal of the $1,000 threshold. The bill’s amendment process involves Senate Budget committee considerations, Senate voting, Assembly concurrence, and eventual submission to the governor. Conversations with the Senate bill sponsor were initiated to streamline this process.

A pivotal advancement occurred as lobbyists spoke directly with Senator Paul Sarlo, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, on December 14, who confirmed that S1825/A5294 would be presented in his committee the following week. To ensure thorough review, the amendments previously approved by the Treasury in June were reattached for reevaluation. An official request was made to eliminate the $1,000 threshold within the bill. During the review on December 21, S1825/A5294 was amended and released unanimously from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with the $1,000 threshold removed.

Next steps are a vote in the full Senate, which will likely occur January 4, and a vote on concurrence in the Assembly. Bill would then go to the governor for final consideration. The bill’s deadline for the Governor’s signature is January 15, 2024, for it to be enacted. While success isn’t guaranteed, the signs indicate that we should be hopeful. Lobbyists will continue to work with legislators and the governor’s counsel to ensure that things move forward.

To contribute toward lobbyist fees and other campaign expenses, please make your check payable to Richard Cohen, and mail it to National Watch & Coin, 106 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Write on the check “New Jersey Campaign.” For more information, please contact Cohen at (215) 418-2700 or via email at rlondon@guesswho.com.
 

Vermont

House Bill 295, introduced by Representative Arthur Peterson on February 21, aims to establish a sales-tax exemption for precious metals sold for investment purposes. The central objective of HB 295 is to exempt sales of precious metals over $1,000 from the state’s sales and use tax. However, this threshold limits small-scale investors in precious metals, including retirees, military families, and modest-income consumers who deserve to engage in local precious-metal transactions without the burden of sales and use taxes.

In light of these considerations, our advocacy efforts have included reaching out to Rep. Peterson, urging him to remove the $1,000 threshold. Our goal is to level the playing field and promote fairness in investment choices. By eliminating this threshold, we aim to make precious metals more accessible to smaller-scale investors, ensuring they have the same investment options as large-scale investors who are not subject to sales and use taxes.

Currently, the bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee. The Vermont Legislature (2023–2024) is in recess, but we are eagerly anticipating further action on HB 295 by the committee when they reconvene. We remain dedicated to advocating for a more equitable investment landscape in Vermont, where precious metals should serve as a viable and accessible option for all residents. Your continued support and engagement in this endeavor are instrumental in our pursuit of positive legislative change.

For more information or to volunteer to help with the local campaign efforts, please contact NCBA at (678) 430-3252 or email ncba@ncbassoc.org.
 

Wisconsin

Last quarter, we reported on Senate Bill 33, which proposes a sales- and use-tax exemption for precious-metal bullion, and Assembly Bill 29, which seeks a similar exemption. Both bills are currently awaiting further action in the Senate Universities and Revenue Committee and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, respectively.

A fiscal estimate has also been received on the bills. To review, a fiscal estimate is a written projection of the costs, savings, and revenue gains or losses that may result from the implementation of a bill or joint resolution. It serves as a tool to help legislators better understand how a bill might impact the state budget, individual agencies, and, in some instances, local governments. According to Wisconsin’s fiscal agencies the estimated annual loss in state revenue is an inflated $3,700,000, while the estimated local revenue lost is $298,000.

For a more accurate figure, according to the NCBA’s 2016 national survey of actual coin dealer activity for the year 2015, it was determined that the average annual in-state retail sales of coins and precious-metals bullion amounted to $104,188 per dealer in states where such merchandise is subject to sales taxes. In the 2015 Numismatic Dealer Directory, there were 101 listed Wisconsin dealers. By calculating 101 x $104,188 x 5% sales tax, we estimate approximately $526,149 in annual state sales-tax collections that could be lost.

Senator Rachael Cabral-Guevara has expressed to coalition leader Michelle Voecks-Griesbach her desire for testimony from NCBA when the Senate Universities and Revenue Committee schedules a hearing for the bill. NCBA’s industry issues advisor, Pat Heller, is prepared to address the fiscal note’s overestimate at that time.

For more information or to volunteer to assist with local campaign efforts, please contact Michelle Voecks-Griesbach of Fox Valley Coin & Diamonds Etc. at (920) 731-5451 or email michelle@foxcoin.com.
 

National News

PSA: Verify Safe Deposit Box Contents Immediately

The National Coin & Bullion Association is issuing an advisory to members who utilize safe deposit boxes. Patrick A. Heller, NCBA’s industry issues advisor, has heard reports regarding safe deposit boxes in the Lansing, Michigan, area that demand immediate action and scrutiny.

Several customers have reported branch closures at banks and credit unions where they maintain safe deposit boxes. Shockingly, these financial institutions have unilaterally transferred the contents of closed boxes to other branches without notifying the affected customers.

While most boxes remain intact, troubling instances have been reported. This includes contents found mixed with items from other boxes and—of grave concern—claims of missing high-value assets, reportedly untraceable by the banks.

While the full scope of this issue is yet unknown, Comerica has been identified by affected customers as one company following these practices.

This alarming situation raises concerns that similar occurrences might be happening elsewhere across the country.

We strongly urge all members who utilize safe deposit boxes with banks or credit unions to take immediate action:
  • Visit your safe deposit box promptly.
  • Conduct a thorough verification of its contents.
  • Report any discrepancies or missing items to the respective financial institution.
The security of your possessions is paramount. We are monitoring this situation and will provide updates as information becomes available.
 

Blanks Issues Draw Blank Responses from U.S. Mint—Consequences Of Mint Problems

The American Silver Eagle was once the top-selling bullion coin in the world.  In recent years, however, dealers have struggled with selling U.S.-minted bullion coins as prices in the United States have far outpaced the prices of similar coins from foreign mints. When this was brought to the attention of the National Coin & Bullion Association, our research indicated that this issue could be laid directly at the feet of the U.S. Mint itself because of forced scarcity in its production practices and markups in the price as coins change hands between the Mint and dealers. Because of these issues, Silver Eagles are falling from grace as the “number one investment product” in the United States and are priced too steep for many collectors.  The Mint’s failure to address problems of its own making has molded the Silver Eagle into a poster child for many of the problems facing U.S. bullion-coin dealers.

Issues Facing the Mint

Questionable “Supply and Demand” Issues
By law, the U.S. Mint is required to produce “sufficient numbers” of American Eagles to “meet demand.” The Mint has ignored that legislative requirement in recent years—even using blanks that could be utilized for producing more American Silver Eagles for other Mint products and then faulting suppliers for failing to provide enough blanks, claiming that the pandemic was a cause of blank shortages and/or production issues. Minting other products with these blanks goes against past Mint interpretations of guiding legislation, according to former Mint executives.

Although the Mint has argued that it was not possible to obtain enough blanks, especially during the pandemic, production records do not support the Mint’s argument. In fact, the Mint purchased and struck 40% more American Silver Eagles in 2020 and 2021—at the height of the pandemic—than Australia’s Perth Mint struck of its one-ounce bullion coins during the same time period. Those ratios completely reversed during the 2022 post-pandemic period, with U.S. Mint production dropping significantly. In September 2022, the Mint informed dealers in a letter that it would be increasing American Silver Eagle production quantities, when the Mint’s own bullion sales website posted the opposite information.

Contract Issues for Blanks
While we could argue that the Mint is misusing the blanks it does have, there is something to the argument that there are not enough blanks to go around. Blank suppliers’ issues are probably related to Mint contract issues. Recently, the Mint appears to have had only one source from which to acquire blanks. Interviews with companies that have supplied blanks in previous years detail their difficulties in dealing with the Mint—not only with the specifications required, but also the Mint’s refusal to commit to purchasing a guaranteed number of blanks. More importantly, one company stated that since the Mint would not contract to purchase a specific number of blanks, the blanks could be more profitably sold to producers of “rounds” when the silver market was up.

Excessive Wholesale Premiums Make ASEs Unprofitable Investments
The Mint sells American Silver Eagles through a network of Authorized Purchasers (APs). APs create the wholesale price for Silver Eagles based on the international spot price of one troy ounce of silver, adding a “modest premium,” stated to cover “minting, distribution, and marketing costs.” Finally, dealers will sell at retail prices to collectors and investors.

The Mint’s website specifies that American Eagles are provided at a “modest premium” and are a “cost-effective way to invest in precious metals.” But when we compare the premium APs with the Mint charge on American Silver Eagles to the premium for other major world mint bullion coins, the percentage of Silver Eagle premiums above spot silver prices are unbelievably disadvantageous to U.S. consumers. For example, on June 15, 2023, spot silver was quoted as $23.42. Premiums charged by APs/the Mint was $10.50, making the cost to dealers ($33.92) 44.8% above the silver spot price, before any dealer profit was added.  Contrast that with the Canadian Mint Silver Maple Leaf, with a premium of only $3.25 (USD) above spot silver—only 12% above the spot price.

Since the Silver Eagles are often touted as “permitted to be placed in IRA accounts,” the Mint has perverted what was intended as a safe investment option for Americans based upon its assertion that it would charge only a “modest premium” and be “cost-effective.” Under the standards set by some recent New York court actions and state and federal agency inquiries, the Mint, if a private company, could arguably be charged as complicit in misleading elderly investors.

Causes Of Mint Problems

Supply and Demand Issues
The Mint does not plan in advance to meet American Silver Eagle “demand.” Although prioritized by law for American Eagles, blanks are needed for the Commemorative coins mandated by Congress, as well as other Mint-created numismatic coins and/or medals, which frequently have the same purity and size requirements as Silver Eagles. The blanks they have, therefore, have multiple potential uses. The absence of a monitored blank acquisition plan is devastating. Many of the numerous higher-priced numismatic items initiated by the Mint are prioritized during blank shortages, reducing its ability to meet mandated American Silver Eagle production requirements. The limited runs of Silver Eagles create scarcity, which consequently affect prices for the Silver Eagle bullion coins desired by investors. The Mint markets numismatic items to entirely different categories of consumers. But public hostility over prices ends up too often aimed at the dealer who has to inform the purchaser about the current cost of the Mint’s items.

Contract Issues for Blanks
Both directly and indirectly, the “sole source” supplier situation virtually guarantees supply problems. The Mint does not want to contract for more blanks than necessary to meet the American Eagle demands, and the supplier does not want to be restricted from sales to other buyers if sales to the Mint are not guaranteed.

As a result of the uncertainties, it becomes likely that the supplier will follow the marketplace in choosing between supplying the Mint or meeting demands from other blank users for their own bullion or numismatic products. The Mint has stated it is looking for other blank suppliers. Some other world mints produce their own blanks.

Causes Of Excessive Premiums
No major world mint that we surveyed makes it more difficult to become an authorized purchaser than the U.S. Mint. Only a relatively small number of U.S. Mint APs have been approved, possibly contributing to the high premium structure of the Mint’s claimed “modest premium.” The wholesale markup charged to dealers by APs in recent years is often much higher than the Mint’s initial premium charge. In the past, the U.S. Mint has acted to restrict APs charging high premiums, like with the “America the Beautiful” program launch in 2010. The current Mint, though, doesn’t seem to fully understand the complications of a very substantial—sometimes enormous—markup added to the Mint’s premium. This has resulted in a marketplace disadvantage to the American consumer unlike any other country and has turned bullion investors away from the American Eagle.

Because the Mint has mostly ignoring the wholesale and retail marketplaces, the Mint is complicit in the unpredictable, broken, and skyrocketing premium system. Further compounding these factors is the Mint’s suspension of additional AP approvals. The Mint placed a notice on its website several months ago:
 
“The United States Mint is currently reviewing and updating our requirements for becoming an authorized purchaser of United States Mint products.”
 
During this review of procedure—now exceeding several months—the Mint has suspended the review of all applications.

The Mint continues to describe the American Silver Eagle as “the number one investment product,” apparently unaware of the impact of high premiums on investors’ interest. In the past three years, retail pricing is often excessive compared to silver bullion coins available from other world mints with much lower premiums. Some of the other mints’ products are even .9999 fine silver, compared to the U.S. Mint’s .999 fine silver American Silver Eagles. The premium structure unintentionally created by the U.S. Mint is not good for the consumer or dealer but has resulted at times in greatly increased profits on American Silver Eagles sales by the APs. Retail dealers we have surveyed noted that response by new customers to their ads featuring American Silver Eagles has dramatically decreased. This affects the entry of new clients into the numismatic and investments markets, as a whole. Consequently, many dealers have turned to advertising more foreign silver bullion coins, to the detriment of the American Silver Eagle program.

Suggested Cures

Supply and Demand
  1. Each category of Mint products should be planned for separately to ensure supply availability. Since the Silver Eagles are mandated by law for preference in striking, the U.S. Mint should examine the procedures employed by other major world mints. It should be reasonable to expect the U.S. Mint to do what other mints do well.
  2. The Mint’s contracts should be written to fairly treat both the Mint and the supplier, so that fluctuations in bullion price are anticipated. Blanks sales should be subject to a pre-determined scale based upon the spot price of silver.
  3. Commemorative coins mandated by congressional legislation should contain language conforming to the existing law, giving Silver Eagles preference and providing the Mint with greater latitude and authority to contract for the additional blanks required for the commemorative coins if prioritizing Silver Eagles threatens their production.
  4. Other numismatic products should remain subject to the current law on American Silver Eagle preference but allow the Mint additional latitude to contract from sources other than the supplier of American Silver Eagle blanks, if only for the production of numismatic products otherwise unable to be lawfully minted.
Contracts for Blanks
  1. The Mint should have the latitude to acquire blanks from non-U.S.-based manufacturers if its U.S. supplier or suppliers are unable to deliver the required volume of blanks for Silver Eagles and other Mint needs. Alternatives to the “sole source” situation must be created.
  2. The Mint’s technical standards for blanks should be re-examined to determine whether the same standards are required for every product or form of strike (i.e., proof or other special finish).
Excessive Premiums
The APs were created for the purpose, in the Mint’s words, of creating “a two-way market buying and selling to wholesalers, financial institutions, and other secondary retailers.” There have been many benefits to the services provided by the APs.

The current limitation on the number of APs could restrict that intention and allow a small group to control premiums and markups that are layered on top of market conditions. This has resulted in large swings in the premiums added by the APs.

For example, in August 2022 the American Silver Eagle sold for $12.50 over spot compared to the Canadian Maple Leaf at $4.75, Australian Kangaroo at $4.80, and Britannia King at $4.00. Silver Eagles premiums have bounced up and down in part based upon supply and demand, but too often the Mint’s APs are imposing large premiums well above those of competing world mints.

The cure is obvious.
  1. More APs will force more competition and possibly bring better premium pricing.
  2. If the Mint cannot qualify more APs (despite there being several reputable dealers currently awaiting approval), legislation should be passed to direct the Mint to reach beyond U.S. sources if necessary. Congress should examine why major world mints do not have the “AP high premium volatility” issues.
  3. The Mint should consider allowing credit-worthy non-APs to make large bulk purchases directly from it. These bulk purchasers could pay slightly more than the APs, providing extra income to the U.S. Mint.
Such actions could prevent the kind of premium swings that did not exist before 2021 and have continued over and over ever since.

Until the issues of scarcity and excessive markups in pricing are resolved, the market is going to continue to see difficulty in moving Silver Eagles compared to other world mint bullion coins. Dealers will not want to continue losing money trying to push the Silver Eagle when there are other, more cost-effective options available. The American Silver Eagle should be returned to the status of consistently being the “number one investment product” in the country, but more than that, U.S. purchasers and IRA investors should return to being the number one concern for U.S. Mint.

A copy of this article's white paper, 'Blanks Issues Draw Blank Responses from U.S. Mint—Consequences Of Mint Problems,' with charts is available here.

Jimmy Hayes is NCBA’s general counsel, a numismatist and former member of Congress. He has also served as Commissioner of Financial Institutions and Commissioner of Securities in Louisiana. Jimmy Hayes and Anthony J. Correro (Securities professor at LSU Law School) wrote the current Louisiana Securities Code.

Mike Fuljenz is a member of the NCBA board of directors and executive committee, and chair of the ASE Supply Challenge Committee.  Mike received the prestigious lifetime achievement, Clemy Award, from the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2013 and in 2021 was named the Dealer of the Year by the American Numismatic Association.  He is the president of Universal Coin & Bullion, a renowned company in the field.
 

Crucial Updates:
Compliance Shifts & Reporting Requirements for 2024

FinCEN Delays Release of New AML/CFT Regulations
New anti-money laundering (AML) regulations—which will impact business practices for dealers in precious metals, numismatics, stones, and gems—were scheduled to be released for public comment in December 2023. However, that has been postponed until March 2024, with a two-month public comment period concluding in May 2024. Consequently, the new regulations are unlikely to be finalized and take effect until late 2024. Until then, adherence to current regulations remains imperative: maintaining a written compliance plan with a designated compliance officer, conducting employee AML training, documenting transactions over $3,000, reporting cash exchanges over $10,000, and periodic AML reviews.

Anticipating the New Regulations
A pivotal question emerges: Will the current $10,000 threshold for reporting currency transactions see an increase? The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 established the threshold at $10,000—today, adjusted for inflation, that would exceed $74,000. Despite this, electronic currency reporting requirements commencing January 1, 2024, still utilize the $10,000 threshold (see “New Form 8300 e-Filing Requirements and Corporate Transparency Act”, Member News, 2023 Q3). Notably, this new mandate to e-file only applies to businesses already required to submit 10 or more electronic forms (e.g., Form W-2) annually.

Is Form 1099-B Still Relevant for Precious Metal Dealers?
The requirement to file Form 1099-B, typically used for reporting purchases of specific amounts of precious-metal coins and bars from retail customers, might phase out in 2024. The NCBA has contacted the IRS regarding the absence of regulated futures contracts settled with precious-metal coins. Contracts permitting physical settlement currently only necessitate specific purity for precious-metal bars from over 100 internationally approved “brands.”

Changes to Form 1099-K Reporting Thresholds for 2023 and Beyond
The IRS recently announced modifications to Form 1099-K reporting thresholds. In 2023, a taxpayer had to receive over $20,000 and conduct more than 200 transactions before it was necessary to submit this form. That $20,000 threshold was an outlier; in previous years the threshold was set at $600. The IRS has indicated that it will be reverting to the $600 threshold in 2025, and 2024 will be a transition year, with a threshold of $5,000.

Update to Beneficial Ownership Information
In the Fall 2023 Member News, I detailed the Corporate Transparency Act’s Beneficial Ownership Information requirements. Effective January 1, 2024, businesses established in 2023 or earlier, actively operating as corporations, LLCs, or other legal entities within a state or territory, and meeting specific criteria, will need to register Beneficial Ownership Information with FinCEN by December 31, 2024. Entities established on or after January 1, 2024, meeting the stipulated requirements, must register within 90 days of establishment.

Determining whether registration is necessary involves multiple factors. FinCEN has posted on its website the comprehensive “Small Entity Compliance Guide,” a 50-page resource guiding businesses through the registration process.

Gary Knaus, NCBA member and owner of Knaus & Associates, Inc., has provided AML compliance services to bullion, coin, and jewelry dealers since 2012. Contact him at 630-963-6350 or gknaus@aml4u.com.

Attending the FUN Convention? Gary Knaus will be discussing and answering questions about the new Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 regulations on January 3, 2024, at 10:15 a.m. in room N320E of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.