State Senator Chad McMahan’s recent Facebook post on businesses not accepting cash for payments during the COVID-19 pandemic has been shared over 18,000 times and has received over 2,100 likes since Wednesday.
The Mississippi state senator from District 6 wrote the post after he says several people reached out to him about the issue of companies in Mississippi refusing to take cash as payment.
“Take a look at the photos attached,” McMahan writes, referencing a $20 bill. “This is a Federal Reserve Note, a $20 bill. This paper money, this note, is Legal Tender for all debts, public and private. Business owners, if you refused to take cash, the debt is paid in full. If you are a business owner and you refuse to take cash, you are breaking the law.”
“Here is an example,” McMahan continues in the post. “If I stop by your store and I purchase $44 worth of fuel, and I try to pay you with a $100 bill and you refuse payment of cash, the debt is paid in full. There is nothing you can do to prosecute me because you have refused payment of Legal Tender, unless the business suspects counterfeit bills.”
The state senator then asks residents of Mississippi to make him aware of companies who will not receive or take your cash, noting, “They will be receiving a call from my office, the Department of Revenue, and the Attorney General’s office.”
While Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” does state, “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,” according to the Federal Reserve’s own FAQs, there is “no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services.”
“Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise,” the Federal Reserve states.
Y’all Politics contacted the Mississippi Attorney General’s office regarding this matter for clarification on state law.
“I am aware of no federal or state law mandating a Mississippi business accept cash,” TJ Werre, spokesperson for AG Lynn Fitch said.