Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Man Pays Ticket With Origami Pigs

Americans are great at passive aggressive protest. We've all heard of those people who think they're so cool sticking it to the establishment and paying their bills or fines in pennies. A Utah man paid his $25 doctor's bill with 2,500 pennies.

But, one man got a bit more creative. A Houston man was very unhappy when police gave him a $137 ticket for an expired inspection ticket. So to show his dissatisfaction, he folded 137 dollar bills into origami pigs, put them into two Dunkin' Donuts boxes, and went to pay his fine. (He claims that he folded the dollars into pigs because that's the shape of piggy banks, but I think he's referring to something else.)

Unsurprisingly, the teller refused to accept the piggy money.

Legal Tender?

The man argues that the teller has to take the pig money because it was legal tender. The belief that businesses have to accept any form of payment, as long as it's legal tender, is nothing more than a myth.

The Coinage Act of 1965 states, "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. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."

However, the U.S. Department of The Treasury explains that while coins and folded pig dollars are legal tender, there's nothing in the law requiring anybody to accept a donut box full of origami dollars. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept any form of legal tender. This is why it's legal for businesses to require cash only or refuse to accept bills larger than $20.

Other Money Laws

Did you know that drawing on money could land you in prison?

US Code section 331 and section 333 outlaws defacing or altering any coins or any bank bills "with intent to render such bank bill ... unfit to be reissued." Messing with coins can get you up to five years in prison, but messing with bank bills will only get you six months in prison. Weird.

Did you know that Treasury Department will reimburse you for mutilated money?

The U.S. Treasury will reimburse you for damaged or mutilated currency. All you have to do is mail the mutilated bills to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington D.C. along with a letter explaining the estimated value of the bills and what happened.

This worked for one couple whose dog ate five $100 bills. After the bills passed through the dog, the owners mailed the stinky bills off to Washington D.C. and received a reimbursement a year later!

If you have a ticket, just save everyone the hassle and pay with nice flat cash. But, if you're really angry, I suggest protesting with bacon.

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