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Friday, February 7, 2014

Can Businesses Refuse To Accept Cash?

"Can businesses refuse to accept cash?" While none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are lawyers, we have several resources at hand that we could use to help answer our patron's question.

We weren't able to find the answer in either Nolo's Encyclopedia of Everyday Law or the American Bar Association's Complete Personal Legal Guide, so we took our search to the Internet. Putting "can businesses refuse to accept cash" into an online search engine brought up the Federal Reserve website. The site has a list of frequently asked questions, such as "Why does the United States periodically design its currency?" (to keep ahead of counterfeiters) and "How long is the life span of paper money?" (estimated anywhere from three to fifteen years, depending on the denomination).

As it turns out, U.S. coins and currency are considered legal payment "for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues." However, private businesses, organizations, and individuals, aren't required to accept cash as payment for goods or services, unless there's a state law saying that they must. To help clear up the distinction between what constitutes a debt and what constitutes a good or service, or for advice on what to do if a creditor is not accepting cash, it would be best to consult someone with a legal degree, since we're not qualified to provide legal advice here at the library. However, we do have a collection of legal guides available to check out, including Nolo's Every Tenant's Legal Guide and Neighbor Law.

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