snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Legal Affairs

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 13 August 2015, 05:47 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,642
Icon05 Rejecting pennies as payment

A recent news story reported that a borough had rejected a man's attempt to pay a $25 parking fine with 2,500 pennies, citing a supposed federal regulation stating that pennies and nickels are "not legal tender for debts in excess of 25 cents":

Quote:
Borough Finance Director Jason Cohen said he spoke with Greene that day and pointed out federal regulation Code 31 U.S. Code annotated, Sections 317 and 460.

Cohen said a sign posted in the borough office reads, "Federal law specifies pennies and nickels as small change and not legal tender for debts in excess of 25 cents."
I don't see any section 317 or 460 in Title 31 of the U.S. code, however. What I do see is that 31 U.S. Code 5103 states rather unambiguously that "United States coins and currency are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

Can anyone point me to what they're referring to?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 13 August 2015, 06:12 PM
GenYus234's Avatar
GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
Join Date: 02 August 2005
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 25,550
Default

A article (document warning) from University of Tennessee's MTAS program says that a precursor to 31 USC 5103 set a limit of how many minor coins (pennies and nickles) someone was obligated to accept as payment.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 13 August 2015, 06:38 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 18,263
Glasses

This table cross-references old code provisions to current ones. Concerning 31 USC sec. 317, it says
Quote:
317(a), (b) 5112
317(c) Rep.
317a, 317b Rep.
317c 5120
317d to 317e1 Rep.
317f 321
(rep. means it was repealed).

Concerning 460, it says
Quote:
457462 Rep.
Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 13 August 2015, 09:20 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,642
Jaded

Apparently they finally figured that out:

Quote:
Jeffrey Stonehill, borough manager, acknowledged that borough personnel relied on an outdated policy a week ago when they refused 2,500 pennies as payment from Shippensburg handyman Justin Greene, who was angry about a $25 fine he received.
http://www.publicopiniononline.com/l...-change-future
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 13 August 2015, 09:38 PM
erwins's Avatar
erwins erwins is offline
 
Join Date: 04 April 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 11,920
Default

It's important to note though that the legal tender law only means that a debtor can tender payment to a creditor denominated in dollars. It doesn't mean they have to accept every form of cash payment, or even accept cash at all. I don't think there is a law requiring the borough to accept any and all forms of cash payment. Probably only the federal reserve has to accept all forms of cash.

Last edited by erwins; 13 August 2015 at 09:43 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 14 August 2015, 12:59 AM
Psihala's Avatar
Psihala Psihala is offline
 
Join Date: 28 February 2001
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 7,885
Default

That's probably true, but then, that wouldn't fall under either of the obsolete sections they were basing their rejection on, would it? I mean, wouldn't such a policy of not accepting payment in certain denominations fall under a different rule or regulation?

~Psihala
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 14 August 2015, 01:18 AM
me, no really's Avatar
me, no really me, no really is online now
 
Join Date: 02 June 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 2,533
Default

I assumed that erwins was referring to an internal policy, rather than an actual rule or regulation. I thought that it was possible for any person/business/entity to make a policy that they will not accept a certain type of payment, so the borough in question doesn't need to rely on an external law of any kind - they just to have an official borough policy that they won't accept pennies for more than 25c debt, and they would then be OK to refuse any payment outside their policy.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 14 August 2015, 01:47 AM
Psihala's Avatar
Psihala Psihala is offline
 
Join Date: 28 February 2001
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 7,885
Default

Understood. I guess my point was that they could have done this all along without citing any regulation. Right? Or does it depend at all what those specific sections stated before they were repealed?

~Psihala
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 14 August 2015, 01:48 AM
erwins's Avatar
erwins erwins is offline
 
Join Date: 04 April 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 11,920
Default

Exactly. It may be an obsolete law, but they could have such a policy. Being a public body though, they do probably need to have a formal policy about it, and not just make up ad hoc reasons for rejecting a payment.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Frustrated husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's reasons for rejecting sex snopes NFBSK Gone Wild! 43 27 July 2014 08:04 PM
Federal Benefit Payment snopes Politics 0 27 March 2012 02:48 AM
'Payment in full' snopes Business 17 14 August 2010 01:18 PM
APN Applauds Senate for Rejecting Mideast-related Grandstanding snopes Snopes Spotting 0 15 March 2009 07:50 PM
Payment for pandas? snopes Critter Country 1 05 January 2007 02:33 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.