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How the IRS Violates Legal Tender Laws

March 11, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

In response to my Mises Daily last week on The International War on Cash, a reader recounted the following incident in an email:

Last month I paid the last of an old tax bill to the IRS in person. A sign on the desk said that they do not accept cash payments only check or credit cards.

Indeed on the IRS website the options for payment are listed in the following order: electronic payment options, check, money order, cashier’s check, or cash. The taxpayer is also warned, “Due to staffing limitations, not all local IRS offices accept cash.” Huh? One would think that it is more costly to deal with non-cash methods of payment. In any case, the last time I checked, the Federal Reserve Notes in my wallet all still bore the notice, “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private” This means that they cannot be refused by the creditor for repayment of a debt previously incurred–especially not for payment of taxes, which are the pre-eminent “public debt.” While the IRS may not be strictly in violation of legal tender laws, because one can still use cash to pay at some IRS offices, its anti-cash policy is just another tactic in the Federal government’s relentless war to stamp out cash payments.

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