How can government offices refuse cash?

It says “legal tender” on it, doesn’t that mean anything? I realize it can be an inconvenience and perhaps a security issue, but come on. What kind of a place will take my personal check and not accept cash? This is in OH BTW.

From the US Treasury:

It’s clumsily written, but I’m taking this to mean that absent a state law to the contrary, units of state government are free to refuse cash and in so refusing do not discharge the debt, tax, fee, etc.



Seems that private entities can be exempt from being forced to accept cash, but I don’t see anything that exempts the government (at least the Feds).

Since the question specifically references “governmental agencies” I took the answer’s reference to “organizations” to include such agencies. If my interpretation is wrong, I blame it on the poorly constructed answer. If state and local governments are required to accept cash I would have expected the Treasury Department to say so.

I think the terms “debt” and “creditor” are the keys here. Anyone who demands payment up front for their goods or services can demand it in any form they wish. But if they let you owe them the money, they can’t object if you later pay them in cash.

I do think this line of thinking has some merit. Currency is legal tender for all debts. You wanting to purchase something isn’t a debt, even if you want to purchase this something from a governmental office.

Dnoorman, just ouy of curiosity, which gvt. office was it?

I had a similar experience at my local airport.

I found a flight that I wanted, with a competitive fare. Problem was, the available credit on my credit card was not enough to cover the fare. No problem, sez I, I’ll just drive to the airport and pay at the airline’s desk. I walked up, told them what flight number I wanted, what dates, etc. The quoted fare matched what I found on the web, down to the penny. I pulls out my wallet and the ticket agent looks at me like I have horns growing out of my head. “Cash??? :confused: ,” she says. "We don’t take cash! We don’t even have a cash register. :confused: "

That’s not the law, that’s an explanation of the law, so trying to read it in some half-assed legalistic sense is not going to help you. Look at this line: “There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services.” See? Nothing about any “exemption” because there’s no law in the first place that anyone has to accept currency as payment for goods and services. No “exemption” involved. Just because when they offer a more specific example in the next sentence they don’t explicitly mention government offices doesn’t mean the same principle doesn’t apply to them.

The Mayor’s court of Upper Arlington OH. For a “failure to display front license plate” offense. Fuckers. Most local title/license agencies refuse cash also. I guess they’d rather accept payments that are more susceptible to fraud. :rolleyes:

You think cash isn’t readily susceptible to fraud? I would think credit or check is much less easy to spoof. Cash is, well, cash.

Also cash is susceptible to theft, which is probably their concern.

Well, AFAIK trying to pay with cash for an airline ticket is considered highly suspicious. Isn’t that one of the reasons they don’t take it anymore? You’re lucky you didn’t wind up in Guantanamo… :wink:

As I understand it, this is precisely true. U.S. currency is legal tender for all debts public and private; however, if no exchange has been made, then no debt exists. E.g., I don’t have a debt with the grocery store in the check-out line, so they’re free to refuse cash; however, if I did have a debt, then they’d be obliged to accept cash.

That sounds an awful lot like a debt to me. So, back to the original question . . . how can they refuse cash?

So counterfeit cash is more commonplace than bad checks are? :dubious:

I think the concern is not that the payers will try to rip you off (although that is clearly a problem) but that staff along the way will skim cash.

There was a thread about this a couple of months ago, with some good case cites. I’m too lazy/busy to search (I’m behind on my work, and I really don’t feel like doing any of it). Anyway, it boils down to the fact that for convenience and the ability to run a business, government agencies can refuse cash and direct their own obligations of payment. This is to prevent people paying fines in pennies, barter, foreign currency, whathaveyou. Of course, if a private/public organization violates its own internal policies/procedures/codes regarding the acceptance of cash for payment, then one has a good case against that agency.

While it would hardly be worth the trouble involved, this looks like a “good case” - nothing makes one’s day like making a buearacrat squirm. “I’m here to pay my fine…” “We don’t take… cash”. “Oh. Sign here, please, which stipulates you have refused payment…” etc. etc.

The case I remember was some fringe candidate in 2004 who didn’t believe in the legal validity of fiat currency. He tried to register as a Presidential candidate and pay his twenty dollar registration fee with gold dollar coins (which he claims are the only valid currency). The Federal election official refused to accept the coins as payment.