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Maryland Takes Aim at Numismatics
February 23, 2011

Trying to explain the numismatic hobby/industry to elected officials is a difficult task in the best of times.

When the “fit hits the shan” as former American Numismatic Association president Ken Hallenbeck is fond of saying, it becomes devil take the hindmost.

It is no surprise that politicians consider the numismatic field the hindmost.

There will be a hearing today in the Maryland State Assembly’s House Ways and Means Committee. It will consider revoking the sales tax exemption that applies to sales of coins and bullion over $1,000.

Since it is called an exemption, it sounds like numismatists are elitists defending their privileges to the last unemployed Marylander.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The exemption levels the playing field between coin and bullion investments and investments like stocks or bonds. Imagine the howls if a six percent tax applied the next time you wanted to buy 100 shares of McDonald’s or if your retirement account was shaved by that amount on every trade.

Beyond equity among investments, the exemption brings jobs to Maryland as the nation’s coin dealers arrive three times a year to attend the Baltimore show, which is now arguably the most influential set of shows in the country.

Dealers and collectors take hotel rooms. They eat at restaurants. They take taxis. They even have time occasionally to see the sights. The show itself rents the Baltimore convention center.

Behind all of those activities are Maryland jobs and other taxes like hotel room taxes.

The Industry Council for Tangible Assets and the Professional Numismatists Guild is asking everyone who can to contact Maryland lawmakers to express opposition to the exemption repeal called for in H.B. 206. The list of names and their contact information is in a chart created by Whitman, the owner of the Baltimore shows.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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