In early 2016 South Gippsland Bullion closed its doors due to a ruling by the Australian Tax Office that some products they were selling should have had GST (Goods and Services Tax) payable. Before I go into detail about why I think the ruling was extremely unfair and this is another example of heavy handed government stepping on the little guy, let me first talk a bit about the coin series that triggered it all. It was called “The Series Of Dissent”, and it’s one of my personal favourites.
Shows the greedy spectacled pig bankster with all his fiat money fresh from the printing presses. The Reaper stands ominously behind him with his big scythe and ready to pass judgement.
Featuring the politician with puppeteer strings attached making the classic Nixon double peace sign with eyes stitched shut. The words “Screw the Taxpayer” surround him. Anyone who knows the history of what Nixon did in 1971 will understand the relevance.
Here is the big Corporate building devouring the Small Businesses who are huddled in what looks like a coffee mug. Too Big To Fail became a bit of a slogan during the GFC in 2008 when some of the biggest and wealthiest Corporations were bailed out by the taxpayers.
I don’t have this one, so I borrowed a pic. This coin shows the trio of Government, Banks and Big Corporations working together to squeeze every last drop of wealth out of the world. The design shows the earth cracking like an egg.
Ok, so now we have some perspective and you know why I like this series so much. The designs are intricate and my pictures really don’t do them justice. There is a lot of fine detail so it’s worth pulling out the old magnifying glass or eye piece to really grasp the impressiveness of these coins. Click on the images above to expand them and see (apologies for the fluff). I deliberately uploaded large images.
Back to the ATO ruling. I am no tax lawyer and obviously I need to be careful what I say here, but I’ll try and boil this down into a clear case of double standards. The ATO does not charge GST on Bullion. They do charge GST on Jewellery and Precious Metal products that trade at a price NOT determined in reference to the Spot Price, such as Proof coins which trade at a price reflective of the quality of the coins finish. South Gippsland Bullion WERE charging GST on their Proof coins but not on their Bullion coins, like the Series of Dissent.
Those who are familiar with the Perth Mint would know that they sell a lot of Bullion coins (like the Lunar Series) which are deemed semi-numismatic because of changing quality designs. They even have limited mintages and appeal to collectors all around the world. Their coins usually trade at a significant premium to the spot price. Yet they are exempt from GST.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Perth Mint stuff too, but this is a clear double standard to me. The little guy gets crushed because he can’t fight back. The big guy either has the ATO insiders onside, or are big enough to be able to fight (and win) the legal battle. Some will say it is co-incidence that South Gippsland Bullion was targeted and made an example out of. You could see the theme of the Series Of Dissent coins as ironic to this situation, or you could see it as the reason for it.