Retailers must accept cash from their patrons according to a new Colorado law set to take effect in September 2021. The law carries fines if it’s broken. However, the new statute provides exceptions for some retailers.
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Our Criminal Defense and Business Representation Teams are poised to help business owners in every facet of their business venture. We offer free initial assessments during which you can talk to an attorney about the facts of your case, possible legal options, and cost. Call 303-688-0944 to set up your free case assessment or make that appointment online.
Retailers Must Accept Cash
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked some businesses to refuse cash payments for goods and services in an effort to reduce potential contact with the virus. However, this move created a hardship for some people who were unable to pay with a debit or credit card or another alternative form of payment.
Colorado Revised Statute 11-61-102 will require retailers to accept U.S. currency from patrons to purchase the business’ goods or services. The law specifically names federal reserve notes. That’s just cash or bills, in layman’s terms.
For the law to apply, the business must have a worker there to accept payment in person for the goods and services being offered for sale.
Exceptions to the Cash Rule
There are a number of exceptions in which a retailer does not have to accept paper bills and coins.
The law does not apply to a retail transaction if the business:
- requires a security deposit be placed on a credit card
- must have a credit card number on file to cover any unforeseen damages or expenses
- is a bank or credit union
Another exception to the retailers must accept cash law is if the business uses a device to convert the buyer’s cash into a prepaid card that would let the consumer complete the transaction at the store.
Strict rules apply to the prepaid card exception:
- the transaction cannot include a fee
- a retailer may not require a minimum deposit of more than $1
- the customer must be provided a receipt of their deposit upon request
- the money on the card can never expire
- a business may not limit the number of transactions that can be using the card
A retailer with more than one check-out stand in a single store must have at least one that accepts cash.
Penalties for Not Accepting Cash
Retailers that refuse to accept cash or break any of the related law can be charged with a class 2 petty offense.
If convicted, the penalty is a fine of up to $250. The fine, however, is for each transaction or attempted transaction. CRS 11-61-102(3)(1)
Who Gets Charged?
Governor Jared Polis found the statute to be a little vague about who is subject to charges and fines. Would it be the business owner or the worker?
Polis wrote in a letter when he signed the bill into law:
“I…am concerned about the long-term implications and implementation for the criminal penalty created in this bill. The liability established in this bill is too vague as written.”
Polis notes that the law does not clearly establish who the defendant would be in a cash refusal case. He pointed to several other class 2 petty offenses that do clearly establish a defendant. For instance, selling cigarettes to a minor, operating a boat while under 16 years of age, or not putting out a campfire.
With regards to the retailers must accept cash law, Polis asked: “Does it apply to the retail establishment? The manager on duty? The individual at the counter who refuses to accept the cash?”
Polis has requested state lawmakers to introduce legislation that clarifies to whom the penalty applies.
Talk to a Lawyer
Robinson & Henry is a full-service law firm that includes a Criminal Defense Team and a Business Representation Team. We are poised to help business owners in every facet of their business venture.
We offer free initial assessments during which you can talk to an attorney about the facts of your case, possible legal options, and cost. Call 303-688-0944 to set up your free case assessment or make that appointment online.