Pennies are usually found in between couch cushions, and in the “leave a penny, take a penny” tray at the liquor store. You can’t use them in parking meters or vending machines. So, what is the point of having them? From time to time, customers may try to pay for services in pennies. Usually, it could be because of a dispute with business and customer, or the business of taking a position on a bill or charge made to the customer and the customer is not satisfied with, or the customer’s belief that the business has not provided valuable services. This raises a question that comes up a lot: can a company refuse to accept payment from customers in pennies?
The Law on Currency
U.S. currency includes cash, credit cards, and checks or money orders. The federal law, Coinage Act of 1965, says that coins and cash are “legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” This means that there is no law that requires bills to be paid using cash or coin specifically, meaning that a business can be paid in coins and currency. However, the federal government cannot tell a business which forms of legal tender to accept or not accept for payments. A private business does not have to take all types of legal tender. It can decide to accept whatever type of payment it wants.
Some businesses have their own policies on the pennies. They find that counting pennies is a waste of time and have began to either round up or down. It looks as though a customer is making payment in pennies simply to make it difficult for the business to count its money, a business can indeed legitimately turn away the payment. So, if a customer is trying to make payment in pennies only, a business can legally turn the payment away and ask that the customer pay using a different form of legal tender.
The federal government does not limit a business’ decision to accept pennies, but your state or local government could potentially have its own laws that regulate how private businesses accept currency. You would have to check with your state and local laws on this or consult with a business attorney knowledgeable of the laws pertaining to your business. Contact Axis Legal to evaluate the legality of your business practices and policies involving payments.
AXIS Legal Counsel’s Business and Corporations Practice provides legal advice to numerous businesses with a variety of legal matters, including business formations, contracts, deals, and transactions, business administration, corporate governance, operations, risk management / insurance, labor/employment matters, intellectual property, healthcare, crisis management, directors/officers, private/data security, technology, statutory/legal compliance, and business litigation. AXIS represents businesses, corporations, LLCs, LLPS, partnerships, and startups in need of a corporate lawyer, for business legal matters as well as business litigation, such as disagreements, non-solicit agreements, non-competes, trade secrets, and other disputes with businesses. We are also experienced in providing assistance to business clients concerning business contracts, corporate formation matters, contracts and transactions, business litigation, business legal advice for Corporations, LLPs, LLCs, Partnerships, Small Business, Startups, and others involving corporate law.
If you are seeking a business lawyer, or for information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your business in connection with any legal matter, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.
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