On 1099-Tax Reporting Requirements For Half Ounce Gold Transactions

A week ago we published a guest post from David Galland of Casey's Daily Dispatch in which Galland presented his view on what the consequences of the upcoming introduction of a 1099-filing requirement for gold transactions over $600 would be. "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." The topic is suddenly red hot once again, this time with ABC finally getting on the bandwagon

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Form 1099s will become a means of reporting to the Internal Revenue Service the purchases of all goods and services by small businesses and self-employed people that exceed $600 during a calendar year. Precious metals such as coins and bullion fall into this category and coin dealers have been among those most rankled by the change.

This provision, intended to mine what the IRS deems a vast reservoir of uncollected income tax, was included in the health care legislation ostensibly as a way to pay for it. The tax code tweak is expected to raise $17 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Pat Heller, who owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., deals with around 1,000 customers every week. Many are individuals looking to protect wealth in an uncertain economy, he said, while others are dealers like him.

With spot market prices for gold at nearly $1,200 an ounce, Heller estimates that he'll be filling out between 10,000 and 20,000 tax forms per year after the new law takes effect.

"I'll have to hire two full-time people just to track all this stuff, which cuts into my profitability," he said.

An issue that combines gold coins, the Obama health care law and the IRS is bound to stir passions. Indeed, trading in gold coins and bars has surged since the financial crisis unfolded and Obama took office, metal dealers said.

The sudden interest into gold tax reporting requirement is occurring as gold selling companies are increasingly being put under a regulatory microscope:

The recently revealed investigation by California  authorities into consumer complaints against Goldline International, which has used Beck as a pitchman, and Superior Gold Group (which has not) has put a spotlight on what one liberal leaning politician, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., calls the "unholy alliance" between gold coin sellers, such as Goldline, and conservative talk personalities, such as Beck.

Beck, who through his spokesman, Matt Hiltzik, declined to comment for this story, and Goldline marketers portray gold coins as a better alternative to owning bullion in the event that the U.S. government ever decides, as it did under FDR in 1933, to make it illegal for private citizens to own physical gold. At that time, the U.S. dollar was still pegged to the price of gold; the gold standard was abandoned during the Nixon administration.

Several legal responses have already been drafted in opposition to the proposed "healthcare" law:

Rep. Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., has introduced legislation to repeal the section of the health care bill that would trigger the new tax reporting requirement because he says it's a burden on small businesses.

"Large corporations have whole divisions to handle such transaction paperwork but for a small business, which doesn't have the manpower, this is yet another brick on their back," Lungren said in a statement e-mailed to ABCNews.com. "Everyone agrees that small businesses are job creators and the engine which drives the American economy. I am dumfounded that this Administration is doing all it can to make it more difficult for businesses to succeed rather than doing all it can to help them grow."

Yet while the escalating surveillance over the gold market can not infuse one with confidence that gold transactions will not be increasingly regulated in the future, as David Galland pointed out last week, the implications are more substantial than just in regulating the gold market:

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..

And for those that may have missed it, here is David's previous conclusion:

I hold out little hope that any of these attempts at repeal will succeed. The Democrats know this is their Maginot Line. If Obamacare unwinds, then their already dismal chances of holding power after the November elections become dark, indeed. Further, the latest polls show that the health care legislation is gaining popularity and is now approaching a majority. As time passes and November approaches, I think the legislation’s popularity will grow as more and more people decide they want something approaching “free” medical, a want that becomes ever more acute as the economy struggles and unemployment continues to rise.

In other words, deep political trenches are being dug on the battlefield of nationalized health care – and the Democrats hold the political high ground, making a retreat unlikely.

Back on the specific issue of setting the stage for a VAT, even politicians on the Republicrat side of the aisle are talking about the need for a national sales tax. Get ready for it, it’s coming.

Meanwhile, if you are a physical-gold investor in these United States and would like to prepare… a few thoughts:

  1. Use dips in the gold price to top off your portfolio before the 2012 implementation date.
  2. Document your purchases so that, should you ever be dragged in to explain the source of funds you used to buy your gold in a subsequent sale, once the regulation is in place, you have a ready answer.
  3. Consider opening a safe deposit box at a reputable Canadian bank, then make occasional gold buying/storage trips up north. I suspect that the availability of Canadian safe deposit boxes will become scarce well before 2012 rolls around.