Our Story

Formation and Accomplishments

The National Coin & Bullion Association (NCBA) was originally created as the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) 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, and 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 legislative advocacy organization. Jim Blanchard and others organized several meetings in New Orleans and Washington, DC, to create just such an organization. The Industry Council for Tangible Assets was incorporated as a 501(c)(6) organization in July of 1983, and in 1985 the 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 37 years, NCBA has been the voice of rare-coin and precious-metals dealers in Washington, DC, and it has served and continues to serve on many fronts as an advocate for dealers at the state and local levels. Some of NCBA’s achievements are described in the following.

ICTA began voicing its support for the Model Commodity Code in 1984 and offered the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) information and testimony through the years as states individually signed on to the code. We also testified before the CFTC on precious metals financing in October 1987.

Also in 1984, ICTA began lobbying the United States Mint to create an attractive American bullion product that could compete with other nations’ bullion investment products. The American Eagle bullion coins were introduced officially in October 1986.

The IRS categorizes coins and precious metals dealers as “brokers” for purposes of reporting purchases to the US government. ICTA began pushing for the IRS to define and narrow reporting requirements in 1985 and achieved this victory in December 1992. Prior to this compromise with the IRS, dealers were required to file written reports for every purchase from clients, regardless of the item or quantity—even one Mercury dime required reporting. The reporting compromise was based on the CFTC’s list of commodities, so that since the change dealers are required to report sales of only a very few bullion products in specific quantities.

ICTA was one of several organizations invited to a conference sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the early 1990s to discuss the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which defined how businesses could use the telephone to elicit sales. The rule originally proposed by the FTC could have shut down many precious-metals and rare-coin businesses that rely on telephone sales. On behalf of the rare-coin and precious-metals community, ICTA suggested a very narrow definition of prohibited phone sales. As a result of ICTA’s and other organizations’ comments and their participation in various fact-finding activities, the Telemarketing Sales Rule that was promulgated in August 1995 allowed businesses to continue to conduct telephone sales, with proper and consistent procedures designed to protect consumers. ICTA also submitted comments on behalf of the industry concerning the national Do Not Call list proposed in 2002.

Educating dealers about cash-reporting and money-laundering laws began in 1986. ICTA created information kits (for sale to members only) and offered seminars at major coin shows. When these laws were included in the USA PATRIOT Act, US Treasury personnel asked to meet with ICTA staff to discuss potential changes. The USA PATRIOT Act was created as a result of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. For coin and precious-metals dealers, failure to properly comply with cash-reporting regulations can result in jail terms and serious fines. Our Cash Reporting Kit and seminars provided our dealers with specific information not available anywhere else. We also contracted with an acknowledged cash-reporting expert, who assisted our members with developing written Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance plans, as required by the regulations.

Also as a result of 9/11, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instituted onerous baggage searches and carry-on bag limits. ICTA worked with the FAA and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to develop reasonable procedures to streamline dealers’ security checks. Unlike the average traveler, dealers carrying valuable merchandise require specific search procedures that protect them and their products, while also allowing TSA to confirm the safety of dealers’ coin cases and other carry-on items.

ICTA worked through the late 1990s with the California Coin and Bullion Merchants Association (CCBMA) to achieve a definition of “nexus,” which means a business presence. California attempted to define coin and precious-metals dealers as California businesses if they merely attended a single day of a coin show in the state, thus being liable for sales-tax collection of all sales into California. NCBA and CCBMA sought to allows dealers to attend seven days of California shows without being liable to pay certain California taxes. In September 2000, the precedent-setting California nexus rule became law. ICTA later got the seven days show attendance changed to 15 days.

In concert with the CCBMA, ICTA also successfully negotiated changes to California’s secondhand-dealer electronic-reporting requirements. Pawnbrokers had been fighting to include dealers of precious metals and coins under the state’s definition of “secondhand dealers.”  In September 2000, ICTA achieved a reasonable compromise with the state and with state pawnbrokers’ groups. Had this compromise not been achieved, California dealers would be required by law to file electronically (by computer only) on purchases of all merchandise.

ICTA began seeking state sales-tax exemptions in the mid-1980s as Congress began discussions regarding the power of states to tax across state lines. ICTA submitted an amicus curiae brief to the US Supreme Court in 1985 supporting the Quill decision, which upheld the US Constitution’s “commerce clause,” forbidding states from taxing across state lines. In 2014, ICTA launched LexisNexis State Net, which monitored legislative and regulatory issues in all 50 states and Congress. This revolutionized the way ICTA did business, allowing us to be proactive and immediately notify our members in real time of potential legislation.

State sales-tax exemptions regularly come up for review by state legislatures and have, in a few cases, been repealed.  In 2018, after hearing the case Wayfair v. South Dakota, the Supreme Court ruled that a seller’s physical presence was not required in the buyer’s state for a seller to be required to collect and remit sales taxes on the sale for that state. Immediately many states moved to pass laws requiring sellers to become tax collectors on every kind of sale across state lines. We have worked tirelessly to maintain and add to the sales-tax exemptions for coins and precious-metal bullion in the face of all these new laws. We assist grassroots organizations in each state in their efforts to create, protect, or reinstate exemptions when necessary. As of December 2020, 38 states have sales-tax exemptions. Several more states will be introducing sales-tax exemption legislation in the near future. Other state-level legislation in which NCBA has become actively involved are secondhand-holding laws and dealer-registration laws. As a part of these activities, we rebranded ICTA as Your Industry Watchdog.

The US Congress frequently discusses taxation of Internet sales in response to the explosion of this medium and its negative impact on “brick and mortar” shopping. We have monitored this issue since January 2000. Our then-congressional legislative consultant, Jimmy Hayes, played an important part in helping to defeat the Marketplace Fairness Act in 2014. In the face of the Wayfair decision, NCBA is now working with both Democratic and Republican staff members of the Judiciary Committee (which has jurisdiction on Wayfair issues) to prepare for a federal response to the variety of state and local actions cropping up, which are clearly an undue and dangerous burden on interstate commerce.

At the start of 2021 ICTA decided to rebrand in order to emphasize the numismatic focus of our community and advocacy. As part of the change, the organization took the name, “National Coin & Bullion Association.” Though we are now doing business under a new title, our core mission remains the same. We have been supporting our members and the community at large for well over three decades, helping to maintain a favorable legislative and regulatory environment for doing business, and we will continue to be the place with the resources and guidance collectors and dealers need to do business under the existing laws and regulations.

Most of NCBA’s accomplishments require continuous monitoring to ensure that legislative and regulatory successes remain unchallenged as state and federal legislatures and regulatory bodies change over time. Achievements such as state sales-tax exemptions are also threatened by changes in state, national, and world economies, so that NCBA will never rest on its laurels but must be constantly vigilant on behalf of its dealer-constituents.

ICTA/NCBA’s Leaders

Luis Vigdor, chairman, July 1983 – July 1984
Jesse Cornish and Joseph Povey, co-chairmen, July 1984 – August 1985
Jesse Cornish, chairman, August 1985 –
Henry Beckler, acting chairman, February 1986 – February 1987; treasurer, August 1985 – November 1989
Bruce L. Kaplan, chairman, February 1987 – November 1987
Stan Medlar and John Norris, co-chairmen, November 1987 – April 1988
John Norris, chairman, April 1988 – November 1989
Mike Clark, chairman, November 1989 – August 1991
Luis Vigdor, CEO, November 1989 – January 1991 (provided his services gratis)
Tom Noe, chairman, August 1991 – July 1993
Don Doyle, chairman, July 1993 – August 1995
Terry Hanlon, chairman, August 1995 – August 1998
Mal Varner, chairman, August 1998 – August 2000
Paul Montgomery, chairman, August 2000 – August 2002
Todd Imhof, chairman, August 2002 – August 2005
Steve Ivy, chairman, July 2005 – 2007
Fred Weinberg, chairman, August 2007 – January 2010
Gary Adkins, chairman, January 2010 – August 2011
Bob Greenstein, chairman, August 2011 – January 2014
Harry Miller, chairman, January 2014 – January 2017
Philip Diehl, chairman, January 2017 – May 2018
John Fisher, chairman, June 2018 – December 2018
John Brush, chairman, January 2019 –