Monday, November 26, 2007


Legal Question

I'm sure I've asked this here before, but what the #@%$ does it mean when our money says "this bill legal tender for all debts public and private" (emphasis added) if even government agencies do not accept cash as payment for debts or other transactions? I perfectly understand why a business or agency would not want to accept cash. But doesn't the wording on our money indicate they have to accept it? And if it doesn't mean that, why the #@$% do we waste ink writing that on our money?

I always understood "legal tender" to mean that it was something that, if tendered (offered) to a creditor, and refused, would thereby discharge the debt.

So, yes, I think every creditor must accept cash. They cannot demand something else. A check, an order to a third party to pay, is not legal tender. Though many might prefer it.

One other limitation. I think that some coins are not legal tender above a certain amount. I don't think you can discharge a $10,000 debt by tendering a million pennies. Much as you might like to.
Does whether or not cash could be accepted for a transaction depend on what is meant by a creditor then? I guess the legal loophole that is made visible by your explanation is that if X says "I only accept credit cards" and Y says "I only have cash" then X can say "well, I won't sell you my product" ... since no debt is incurred, cash doesn't have to be accepted?

It still bugs me a bit ...
Not to mention the asinine VISA commercial where the poor woman paying cash somehow slows down the line of happy consumers mindlessly swiping credit cards. Have the executives approving such things never stood in an actual check-out line, you think?
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