"Not only does this hurt their ability to transact, but it threatens their food security," Bryant said. However, if you have already taken goods or services and the seller demands payment, cash is legal tender, i.e. While it is legal for businesses to not accept cash, the Bank of Canada recently issued a statement asking businesses to keep accepting it as it noted that some individuals are … Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. … We'll publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we're also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and on CBC News Network. 3. Many states require that a private impound lot accept cash payments by an owner seeking the release of a motor vehicle. I'd let it sit instead.". Is it legal to refuse to accept cash as payment? Yes it is perfectly legal to refuse cash - if it is not in line with the Coinage Act. 4. "Even one day would be low risk. For example, some states require that a landlord accept rent payments in cash. In most places, no. But there is something else you should be thinking about when it comes to payment, said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), warns that a store's no-cash policy could inadvertently discriminate against seniors, people who are disabled, impoverished or people who just don't have credit or debit cards. If you need personalized legal advice, contact an attorney in your community. Some retailers — like the Metro grocery chain in Ontario and Quebec — say they're encouraging customers to use cards, but they'll still take cash if it's the only option. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts. ", Then there's all the other things you're touching: "Merchandise, counters, door handles, and we can add cash to the list," Furness said. According to that research, it could last longer on coins than bills. And as always, no matter what, physical distancing, good hand hygiene and being aware of what you're touching are the best things you can do to keep yourself safe. But don't use disinfectant wipes or other products containing bleach or rubbing alcohol. 2009). There is no law which says that business must accept cash money. The failure to comply with state law subject a business to possible investigation by the state, and to possible fines for its non-compliance with the law or in some contexts even to a potential criminal penalty. United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. There is no federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. And even if stores say they prefer plastic only, it's worth asking if they can make an exception. Send yours to COVID@cbc.ca and we’ll answer as many as we can. The principal purpose of that statute is to ensure the nationwide acceptance of U.S. currency, consistent with constitutional language1 that reserves to Congress the power to create a uniform currency that holds the same value throughout the United States. Discussion forums for legal questions and issues. While the statute provides that U.S. money is legal tender that may be accepted for the payment of debts, it does not require acceptance of cash payments, nor does it provide that restrictions cannot be imposed upon the acceptance of cash. Just as many retailers refuse to accept cheques or £50 notes, there is nothing to stop them from not taking cash at all. We’ll publish a selection of answers every weekday online and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network. As it does not appear that the office otherwise restricted payment in coins, he might have avoided that consequence had he presented a bag of neatly rolled pennies or had he at least not send the coins rolling and spinning across the counter. Easy to use directory of expert witnesses. Neither belief is true. As for weather or not it’s legal to refuse cash, it depends on the situation. Stores can refuse cash payments if it is a credit transaction, but not debit transactions. At times, debtors have attempted to pay bills with small change, such as by bringing thousands of unrolled pennies into a business or government office to pay a bill or obligation, insisting that they have the right to pay in that manner. As for debit and credit cards, a disinfecting wipe or cotton pad with alcohol will work — as will a non-abrasive soap mixed with water. Business owners, if you refused to take cash, the debt is paid in full. A few years ago, a debtor was charged with disorderly conduct after dumping 2,500 pennies on the counter of a medical office, insisting that they accept the pennies as payment of his bill. Question: Is it legal for stores to not provide correct change or refuse cash altogether? 'If you are a business and you refuse to take cash, you are breaking the law.' Some people take the argument a step further, arguing that if a business refuses to accept cash from a customer, the business loses its ability to charge the customer. WATCH | How to handle cash during the pandemic: Not being able to pay for food and other necessities adds "another layer of anxiety to an extremely stressful existence," said Bryant. It is a widely held belief that U.S. law requires that businesses accept cash payments from their customers. If the cash payment is the payment of debt, then the payment cannot be refused, as long as the money is still legal tender. Answer: The United States is currently experiencing a coin shortage due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the tax office, each bill was folded so tightly that it took six minutes to unfold a single bill. 'Refusal to accept payment in legal tender banknotes and coins is not unlawful,' it states. Can a store make me wear a mask to shop? As mentioned, there is no federal law that mandates private businesses to accept cash as a form of payment. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. In another case, a man had some friends deliver thousands of unrolled pennies to a lawyer's office to pay a judgment awarded to the lawyer's client, causing the lawyer to file a petition to hold him in contempt. Send us your questions via email at COVID@cbc.ca, and we'll answer as many as we can. Is it legal to refuse cash? valid payment, for that debt. If cleaning your cash makes you feel better, the Bank of Canada says soap and water will do the trick on polymer bank notes because they're resistant to moisture. See, e.g., Nemser v. New York City Transit Auth., 140 Misc.2d 369, 530 N.Y.S.2d 493, 494 (1988), which applies a reasonableness standard to when a municipality must accept cash payments. We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic. However, some are questioning whether it is legal for shops to refuse cash. With recent efforts to limit the spread of germs and reduce contact, a look at how to handle cash during a pandemic. Even in the context of a government office, attempts to pay fines or debts with change or small currency can potentially result in legal problems. [French article] [Google translated version in comments] Cash, as written on US legal tender, is a valid payment for all debts. They have to take my cash! A social media post claims that if cash is turned down by a store, then the debt is recognized as paid. If you're still not confident, Furness recommends letting your money sit for a while. READ MORE: How Bunnings will be used to combat coronavirus in Australia Harris Farm at Westfield Bondi Junction is … This is also a risk in rural areas where there may be only one grocery store, he said. 5103. But a few minutes of research turned up a surprising fact: On the federal level, it is perfectly legal. "It doesn't represent a new or increased risk. Is it Legal for Airlines to Refuse to Accept Cash? Some courts have emphasized that the language of 31 U.S.C. Otherwise, even when you're dealing with a legitimate business, you may find that they later claim to have no record of the payment and insist that they never received the money. Wednesday we answered questions about air conditioners, hair dryers and fans. But most of us have at some time been met with puzzled looks and a refusal when we’ve proffered a … While Australian currency is legal tender (meaning other currencies cannot be used), it does not mean that cash must be the only payment method.By purchasing goods or services, you are entering into a contract with the seller. Some social media users claim it is illegal to refuse cash payments. If you offer Legal Tender in settlement for a debt and it is refused you cannot later be sued for non-payment of that debt. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. "The buttons on a credit/debit machine would be riskier than cash, because those same buttons are being pressed by the tip of oily fingers and lots of them — constantly," he said in an email. And though the virus starts to degrade or break down right away, it can take up to three days for it to be totally gone. "So [retailers] need to use their discretion.". Neither belief is true. It's one of a long list of reasons to carry hand sanitizer and use it.". Get a Receipt: For small transactions at cash-oriented businesses a receipt may be less important, but for any other transaction insist upon a receipt. 733, 735 (3rd Cir. "It's illegal to refuse cash in Massachusetts," she wrote. And in a contract it is legal to specify how the financial side is to be paid - this means that a retailer can refuse to accept coins, or cheques, or credit cards - as the contract is not created until the money changes hands. Neither 31 U.S.C. Since the panic-demic started, one of the casualties has been cash. Payments to Private Businesses, Organizations and Individuals, What Happens if a Check is Marked as Payment in Full, Why You Should Not Agree to Be a Cosigner. Refusal of Cash Does Not Erase a Debt: Absent a law that specifically imposes a consequence on a payee for refusing cash, a refusal to accept cash will not impair the payee's right or ability to collect a debt. “Business owners, if you refused to take cash, the debt is paid in full. According to the Federal Reserve, at the national level, the answer is yes. "Tap to pay would be safest. Copyright © 1998-2020 Aaron Larson, all rights reserved. When acceptance of a cash payment is required by state law, the state will often impose a penalty or other consequence on a business that refuses to accept cash. So if you're told you can't pay with cash, he said it's worth contacting your provincial human rights commission or the CCLA. In fact, we barely know each other. These posts come at a time when some businesses are refusing cash payments due to concerns about Is it legal to refuse cash? Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6. "Assume three days, and you are very safe," he said. When courts have been called upon to address the issue, they have consistently found that government restrictions on whether, when, where and how cash payments may be made are permissible under the law.3 For example, somebody who wants to pay a municipal bill, a fine or tax debt with cash may be required to do so through a cashier's office during its regular business hours, so that the payment can be properly counted and a receipt may be issued. Don't Send Cash Through the Mail: If the cash disappears before it is processed by the recipient, good luck convincing anybody that you actually mailed the money. If you’ve already received the goods or services, the business must accept the cash from you. u.s. treasury law states it is unlawful to refuse legal tender any business can also be reported for refusing cash and reprimanded! In an effort to reduce COVID-19 transmission, many stores in Canada have chosen not to accept cash, instead only allowing transactions through debit or credit. Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment? "It's the tip of the finger that then goes in the eye, nose and mouth," he said. The central bank says these substances can damage the notes to the point where they may not be recognizable as legitimate money. If you haven’t yet received the goods there is no debt. 5103 nor any other federal law requires that a private business, organization or person accept cash in exchange for goods or services. Lawyer and author of books, articles, and legal reference materials. A number of viral Facebook posts (including one from Mississippi State Sen. Chad McMahan) claim that it is illegal for businesses not to accept cash payments for goods or services. Even businesses that choose to accept cash can refuse to accept large numbers of coins. 5103 relates to the payment of debts, which they define as preexisting debts, and therefore that the parties to a transaction or exchange do not have to agree to accept cash as payment for goods or services. The short answer: yes. Legal tender is a concept based on paying a debt. Federal law does not prevent a private business from developing its own payment policies and procedures, including policies that restrict or reject payments in cash. The softer the surface the shorter period of time the virus lasts, he said. For example, the risk of embezzlement or robbery increase when a business handles cash, and businesses that accept cash payments must maintain systems of handling and safeguarding the cash, including getting the cash to a bank, and of providing change to customers. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article. “There is … no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payments for goods or services," the nation's central bank says on its website. The short answer is yes, a store can refuse to take cash. What once was king has now been ostracized and stigmatized, and ultimately not allowed as a form of payment, as seen in many businesses around the nation. If you haven’t, they can refuse cash. Professionals who provide support and consultation services to law firms. But it's a little more complicated than that. See, e.g., In re Reyes, 482 B.R. The reasons why a business may refuse to take your cash can vary. Although as a general rule a private business may restrict or refuse to accept cash payments, at times states will mandate that a business accept cash or limit any restrictions a business may impose on cash payments. Some courts have explicitly found that no entity, including a government office, is required to accept cash.4. In summary, the answer is “yes” a business can legally refuse a cash payment. It is a widely held belief that U.S. law requires that businesses accept cash payments from their customers. When you try to make a cash payment to disrupt the payee's operations or to inconvenience the payee, you may end up creating problems for yourself. The Bank of Canada says it's up to sellers to determine what kinds of payment they will accept for transactions, and there is "no law" that would require anyone to accept bank notes or any other form of payment for a commercial transaction. When paying for goods or services in cash, or paying a debt or fine, here are some points to remember: Use Cash if It's Convenient to You: If the payee accepts cash, the reason to pay in cash it out of convenience to yourself. If you are a business owner and you refuse to take cash, you are breaking the law.” Although making a payment in a manner that is inconvenient to the recipient is not of itself unlawful, doing so with the intention of flouting a court order, disrupting the operations of an office, or burdening the recipient's staff is not without peril. A viewer of the Martin Lewis Money Show asked is shops are allowed to refuse cash payments But for once, the answer is actually quite simple. If you are a business owner and you refuse to take cash, you are breaking the law.” This law is for the state of Mississippi, but somewhat holds true for Ohio as well. Legal Tender is a legal notion but has a very specific purpose. Is It Illegal for Businesses to Refuse to Accept Cash? 1. A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you. “This is a Federal Reserve Note, a $20 bill. A municipal bus service or similar transportation service may use a non-cash system of tokens or passes, and is not required to accept cash at every point of service. Pros and cons of refusing cash But some readers, such as Samar D., are asking if it's legal for a retailer to reject payment in cash. They are legal currency and therefore count as cash all over Britain. More businesses are going cashless during the COVID-19 pandemic and are asking customers to use debit, credit or app payments as a precautionary measure. When you purchase something, that is a credit, not a debt transaction. Add some “good” to your morning and evening. Some people take the argument a step further, arguing that if a business refuses to accept cash from a customer, the business loses its ability to charge the customer. Copyright © 2016 Aaron Larson, All rights reserved. Sec. ExpertLaw - Legal Help, Information And Resources. The short answer is yes, a store can refuse to take cash. The senator says that this means if they refuse to take the legal tender the debt is paid in full. Dear John: Could you please tell me why it’s legal for Citibank to prevent people from using cash to pay their credit card bills at the tellers’ windows? While there is no specific danger in using cash as opposed to any other sort of physical interaction, health authorities around the world are urging people to keep touch to a minimum. The posts further claim that when cash is turned down, the debt is legally recognized as paid. The riskiest surfaces for coronavirus and how to clean them, CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices. A spokesperson from the Royal Bank of Canada says it won't damage the magnetic strip or the chip. U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1, "No State shall... coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts...." 2. Federal law is not going to be amended or re-interpreted to require all businesses to accept cash payment, as many contexts exist in which the acceptance of cash would create significant burdens on a business, increase cost, reduce efficiency, and even create potential risks to a business and its employees. Roland Bleyer, founder of creditcard.com.au, explains that it's actually perfectly legal for shops to refuse cash – so long as they make it clear before you purchase. However, in certain circumstances, refusing to take cash in a store may actually violate provincial human rights codes. Sec. — not that I ever use cash (no I’m not rich…credit cards help manage money). Depends. For example, a business may require that payment be made by credit card, may require check or money order, may have a policy against accepting large bills, or may combine restrictions of that nature when creating a payment policy. It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges. This paper money, this note, is Legal Tender for all debts, public and private. 603 (2012), in which a federal bankruptcy court upheld a trustee's order that the petitioners "make payments using only certified funds, automatic wage withdrawals, or electronic transfers". Businesses can refuse to take cash in most circumstances, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. For example, in California a landlord's refusal to accept cash payment of rent may cause the payment to be deemed excused. We know the novel coronavirus lasts on different surfaces for different amounts of time, but we don't know exactly how long the virus could last on different types of money. The court did not make a contempt finding, but did order the man to pay the bank fee associated with processing the pennies, ordered the man to pay additional legal fees associated with the lawyer's motion, and ordered that payment of the sanctions be made with folding money. "Coronavirus will last up to three days on a hard metal or plastic surface at room temperature," said Furness, referring to a study done in April. We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Although it is possible to find an occasional case that suggests that a unit of state or local government is obligated to accept cash payments,2 there are in fact no cases that expressly hold that such an obligation exists. That was my reaction! It's also a bad idea to wash older paper bills which, unlike polymer notes, aren't resistant to moisture. That would include handing over bills and coins from one person's hand to another. According to a spokesperson for the Bank of Canada, Josainne Menard, this temporary practice is legal and at the discretion of the seller. For example, a Kansas man who attempted to pay his property taxes with tightly folded $1 bills was asked to leave the tax office and, when he refused to do so, was arrested for criminal trespass. I wouldn't bother trying to disinfect money. So far, we've received more than 45,000 emails from all corners of the country. See, e.g., Picano v. Borough of Emerson, 353 Fed.Appx. Real life example: McDonald's could refuse to let you buy food with cash and just not serve you. Sec. However, if you are a citizen who does not have the ability to pay by card, we suggest contacting businesses to confirm they are still accepting cash before making the journey there. Paper currency in the United States is printed with the provision that it is "legal tender for all debts, public and private", language that flows from the provisions of a federal law, 31 U.S.C. Ultimately, it’s up to the business to decide whether or not they want to accept cash payments (unless there is a state or local law that says otherwise). - Some stores in Québec have announced their intention to refuse cash as a payment method going forward. "Somebody needs to tell that store owner that they need to develop a system for the rare cases in which cash is the only option," he said. Fred asks whether American Airlines was acting lawfully when it recently announced that it would no longer accept cash for “in flight” purchases, such as food and drinks. Apr 6, 2018. Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca. But some readers, such as Samar D., are asking if it's legal for a retailer to reject payment in cash. 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