Cash Out

Illegal tender


A message printed on every U.S. dollar bill declares "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." That message is no longer quite true in Louisiana, at least not when it comes to buying and selling used goods. 

A law signed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in July outlaws the use of cash in transactions involving used goods that happen more than once a month (thereby exempting occasional flea market vendors). The law's backers say the aim is to prevent theft—particularly of metals such as copper and consumer goods such as TV sets—by mandating a paper trail. Merchants must record the names and addresses of people who sell them secondhand goods. If a seller does not provide a state-issued ID card, the transaction is not permitted. 

The law requires that the records be preserved for three years in case law enforcement agencies want them. And although pawnshops may have shadier reputations than the neighborhood thrift store, pawn shops are exempt from the cash ban, since they were already required to keep records.