ICTA Celebrates 35 Years of Business

The Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) is incredibly proud to have turned 35 in July—but we’re even more proud of how we achieved it. ICTA is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by the membership. The list of the association’s past chairmen reads like a “Who’s Who” of the rare-coin / precious-metals industry: the first chair was Luis Vigdor, followed by ICTA leaders Jesse Cornish and Joseph Povey (co-chairs), Jesse Cornish, Henry Beckler, Bruce L. Kaplan, Stan Medlar and John Norris (co-chairs), John Norris, Mike Clark, Tom Noe, Don Doyle, Terry Hanlon, Mal Varner, Paul Montgomery, Todd Imhof, Steve Ivy, Fred Weinberg, Gary Adkins, Bob Greenstein, Harry Miller, Philip Diehl, and currently John Fisher.

ICTA was created in response to federal legislation, passed in 1981, that removed tangible assets from individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Prior to 1981, investor portfolios could include many tangible assets—artwork, valuable rugs, antiques, rare coins, and precious metals. The federal legislation banning tangibles in investment/retirement accounts sneaked by the rare-coin and precious-metals community, which had no advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. Jim Blanchard and others organized several meetings in New Orleans and Washington to create an industry-advocacy organization. ICTA was incorporated as a 501(c)(6) organization in July 1983, and in 1985 ICTA’s staff and Board of Directors began the work of restoring precious metals and coins as qualified investment products. Bullion products were successfully restored in 1997, and efforts to restore rare coins is ongoing.

For the past 35 years, ICTA has been the voice of rare-coin and precious-metals dealers in Washington and has served and continues to serve on many fronts as an advocate for dealers on the state and local levels. The scope of the association’s activities has increased dramatically since its formation. The following are just a few highlights of ICTA’s accomplishments over the past 35 years:

  • Successfully lobbied for American Eagles’ eligibility as IRA investments.
  • Initiated state sales-tax exemption efforts. 
  • Negotiated with IRS to create reasonable broker-reporting regulations.
  • Created Broker Reporting and Cash Reporting Information Kits—the first such compilations of compliance information and guidance for coin dealers.
  • Invited by the FTC to be one of the very few national participants in the FTC conference to modify the Telemarketing Sales Rule. ICTA successfully negotiated reasonable regulations for the coin industry and established a positive relationship with the FTC.
  • Achieved restoration of most bullion products as qualified for inclusion in IRAs and other self-directed retirement plans as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. 
  • Achieved a 15-day safe harbor from California sales-tax nexus for out-of-state dealers attending shows in that state. 
  • Immediately following 9/11, contacted the FAA regarding the airlines’ carry-on bag limits to ensure dealers are permitted to carry their inventory on board; and continues to work with the TSA and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) on all issues related to dealers’ air-travel security.
  • Invited by the U.S. Treasury to provide input on post-9/11 anti-terrorism regulations. These discussions resulted in less-onerous regulations for coin and precious-metals dealers in Section 352 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
  • Negotiated a significantly reduced fee agreement with an anti–money laundering (AML) / cash-reporting expert to provide customized AML plans for ICTA dealers as required by Section 352. 
  • Co-sponsored (along with Whitman Expos and the ANA) a new law in Maryland that allows dealers to attend three shows, plus the ANA, in that state within a 365-day time frame without being required to obtain a Maryland trader’s license.
  • Helped defeat the Farm Bill’s Harkin amendment, which would have created precious metals cash-market regulation by the CFTC.
  • Assisted and succeeded in passing sales-tax exemption legislation, resulting in 32 states with exemptions and 5 states that have no sales tax for a total of 37 states.
  • Defeated numerous legislative attempts to repeal states’ sales-tax exemptions.
  • Launched LexisNexis® StateNet®, which monitors legislative and regulatory issues in all 50 states and Congress.
  • Established the State Affairs Committee, in which volunteer monitors now watch and report on legislative and regulatory bills in their states.
  • Sent out numerous press releases that have appeared in all of the trade magazines in the last five years, increasing our membership as a result.
  • In the past five years, assisted Nebraska, Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama in passing sales-tax exemptions, expanded exemptions in Oklahoma and Virginia, and reinstated the exemption in Louisiana.
  • Defeated legislation to repeal the sales-tax exemptions in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
  • Collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Commerce for two years on amending the erroneous coin-and-bullion-dealer law. When passed, it was more favorable to the dealers and collectors.
  • Participated in amending the California Collectibles sale of autographed memorabilia legislation.
  • Assisted in defeating secondhand-holding laws in numerous states.
  • Creating and implemented a long-range and strategic plan.
  • Updated ICTA’s 33-year-old bylaws and moved incorporation from the District of Columbia to Delaware.
  • Presented seminars on the ICTA/ACTF update at all the major shows and coin clubs around the country.
  • Assisted in the passage of HR 2754, the Collectible Coin Protection Act, in the U.S. House and Senate.
  • Appointed legislative consultant Jimmy Hayes to monitor legislation that impacts our members, namely the substitute bill for the Marketplace Fairness Act and legislation introduced to curtail Operation Choke Point.
  • Launched the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) to mobilize law-enforcement resources to protect the integrity of U.S. and world coinage by educating officials on the economic impact and growing threat of counterfeit circulating, collectible, and bullion coins. In 18 months, ACTF has become the primary industry liaison with law enforcement and other government agencies and has provided education, expertise, and other resources to law enforcement to curtail the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit coins in the United States. ACTF’s Expert Network has assisted in the investigation of more than two dozen cases involving counterfeiting. The task force is also leading the way in educating dealers, collectors, and the public about how counterfeiting is impacting the numismatic industry.
  • Launched the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation 501(c)(3) to support ACTF in the educational aspects of its work.
  • Responded to the South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court decision, which could cripple small businesses in every state. The Court’s decision is that states can now require online retailers to collect sales-tax revenue from consumers beyond their borders.

Considering ICTA’s limited financial means over the years, the progress the association has made is simply amazing. That couldn’t be truer for ICTA today. Historically, the association’s mantra has always been to do more with less. ICTA members are always going the extra mile to take on the monumental challenges faced by every dealer and collector. Terry Hanon (Dillon Gage) recently said, “ICTA has never been in better shape than it is today. ICTA has always had to struggle financially because less than a quarter of the coin and bullion dealers are members. Every dealer and collector that reaps the benefits of all the legislative and regulatory actions in the country and now the anti-counterfeiting efforts should be a member and financially support the association.”

There have been many estimates over the years on how many coin businesses there are in the United States. A reasonable estimate is around 5,000. ICTA’s total membership is less than 600, which includes dealers, collectors, and clubs. More than half of the dealer-members are members at the Basic ($300) level. To maintain our current efforts in passing sales-tax exemption legislation, defeating the repeal of existing sales-tax exemptions, heading off other onerous legislation, and working with regulatory government agencies in all 50 states and Congress—not to mention efforts like the most recent development with South Dakota v. Wayfair and the significant work of the ACTF—we are asking existing members to increase their current membership level, and we are seeking new members.

Increasing our membership is an effective means of maintaining and expanding our efforts. ICTA’s current members are carrying the load, not only financially, but with many hours of volunteer work on the association’s behalf. Without financial help, ICTA does not have funds to maintain the human resources it takes to sustain the success it has generated over the last 35 years. The need is great for the dealer and collector communities, and for everyone affected by legislative regulations and counterfeits in the marketplace, to pitch in.