The federal exclusion to accept US coins as payment of debts is reserved only for private businesses and individuals to refuse acceptance. Colorado’s legalization for gold and silver is reported here (pdf).
Legal Tender Law & Legal Definition
Legal tender is currency that cannot legally be refused in payment of debt. The Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, defines legal tender as “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.”
This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no federal statute requiring a private business, a person or an organization to accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses may adopt their own policies on whether or not to accept cash as long it doesn’t violate state law. For example, a business may refuses to accept payment in pennies or large denomination bills as a matter of policy. SOURCE
Boulder County homeowner causes stir with coin payment toward subdivision paving assessment
By John Fryar Longmont Times-Call
Posted: 12/24/2013 03:53:27 PM MST
Todd Hunter holds broken pavement from the road in front of his home in Boulder County on Tuesday. Hunter tried to pay a chunk of his Subdivision Paving Local Improvement District assessment in coins at the treasurers office Monday. The office refused to take the coins as payment. ( Paul Aiken )
|Todd Hunter holds broken
pavement from the road in
front of his home in Boulder
County on Tuesday. Hunter
tried to pay a chunk of his
Subdivision Paving Local
assessment in coins at the
treasurers office Monday. The
office refused to take the coins
as payment. ( Paul Aiken )
As of the close of business Monday, about 240 owners of properties in rural Boulder County’s residential subdivisions paid the full assessments that county commissioners have imposed for rehabilitating county subdivision roads over the coming 15 years, according to county Treasurer Bob Hullinghorst.
The residents didn’t have to pay their full assessments Monday, but it was the deadline for property owners to do so if they wanted legal standing to challenge the county over its recently created Subdivision Paving Local Improvement District.
The anger being expressed has “created a very, very high level of stress” among the treasurer’s office staff members who have been dealing with people’s questions and comments about the LID obligation, said Hullinghorst, Boulder County’s treasurer since 2003.
Because of the LID, he said, “we’ve had more hostile taxpayers in the office” during the past several weeks “than in all of my other years as treasurer.”
A Boulder County Courthouse security officer escorted Fairview Estates homeowner Todd Hunter out of the county treasurer’s office Monday afternoon after Hunter tried to pay his $8,190 subdivision paving district assessment with a $7,958.58 check and $231.42 in assorted coins.
On Tuesday, Hunter said he’d deliberately decided to pay part of the total charge with “a random selection of coins” to protest the assessment Boulder County imposed on his property on Brockway Drive — and the lien the county had attached to that property until the
assessment was paid in full.
Hunter said he didn’t want to make a scene when he showed up at the treasurer’s office, “but I wanted to make a statement” about his objections to Boulder County commissioners’ new Subdivision Paving Local Improvement District.
County Treasurer Bob Hullinghorst, however, said Tuesday that Hunter “was obviously trying to make a disturbance in our office” by showing up with “a large number of coins that were unsorted, in various denominations,” which the treasurer said he and his staff didn’t have time to count themselves Monday in order to verify that they totaled $231.42.
“I didn’t want to create a huge burden for the people who work there,” Hunter said.
Hunter said he’d called ahead of his visit and was told by a member of Hullinghorst’s staff that the office would accept a cash payment. He said his bank had counted and sealed the $231.42 in coins in the bag, and that he’d presented them, along with the $7,958.58 check, when he showed up at the treasurer’s office .
Hunter said Hullinghorst and his staff initially refused to accept the coins and then wouldn’t count them and give Hunter a receipt for the total amount he’d paid.
Hullinghorst said Tuesday that there’s long been a sign on the wall in the treasurer’s office that notifies people: “We are not equipped to handle large amounts of coin. 50 or more coins per denomination must be wrapped.”
Hullinghorst said he’d told Hunter that Hunter could take the coins to a bank, have them counted, and return with a check for that amount, but that Hunter refused to do so. Hullinghorst said he’d told Hunter the coins would be kept in the treasurer’s vault until Hunter could retrieve them for a bank’s official count.
Hullinghorst said that when Hunter wouldn’t leave the office, the situation had reached the point where Hunter was disrupting the treasurer’s staff’s ability to serve customers and carry out the office’s other routines. Hullinghorst said he then called security to escort Hunter out of the office.
“The Treasurer’s Office is here to conduct the public’s business for all the public,” Hullinghorst said. “It’s a small staff” and “it was busy” Monday.
“This gentleman was slowing down the process” by “wanting to use our office to make a political point about his displeasure with the assessment,” Hullinghorst said.
Hunter said he wound up getting his coins counted — when they were taken to a bank by a member of the county commissioner’s staff who then brought back the bank’s counter check for the $231.42 — after Hunter told Commissioner Cindy Domenico of the situation he’d encountered in the treasurer’s office.
Hunter said he eventually did get a receipt for his full payment of the assessment Monday afternoon.
This sign is outside the Boulder County Assessor’s office. (Courtesy Boulder County)
Boulder County treasurer’s staff hears from angry subdivision property owners
Boulder County Paving Improvement District