SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah man who wants to pay his taxes with silver coins has been rebuffed by state and county officials who claim it's impractical to accept the precious metals despite a state law making them legal tender.
Earlier this year, Utah became the first state in the country to legalize gold and silver coins as currency. But because the law doesn't require businesses to accept the metals, most government agencies and private merchants have not embraced the alternative method.
Orem resident Carlton Bowen told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/vUIqQL) he learned that the hard way when Utah County wouldn't let him cover his property tax with silver. The state has also told him they will not accept silver.
I'm very concerned that this has potential for money laundering and other types of illegal activities. . Nobody's fleshed out all these details, and they want to have as little regulation and oversight as possible.
–- Richard Ellis, Utah State Treasury
Some businesses have accepted silver from Bowen, he said, and he has made charitable donations with the coins, but he wants the state to follow its own law.
"When is Utah going to accept its own legal tender?" Bowen said.
Doing so would be impractical, Utah State Treasurer Richard Ellis said, adding that it could potentially violate another state law that prohibits agencies from holding gold as an asset because of the volatility of the commodity.
There is also ample room for fraud, Ellis said.
"I'm very concerned that this has potential for money laundering and other types of illegal activities. . Nobody's fleshed out all these details, and they want to have as little regulation and oversight as possible," Ellis said. "In my mind there's still no practical way of making this happen."
The law, however, is unlikely to change in the near future. Legislators have repeatedly said it was mostly passed as a protest against the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.
"It doesn't allow much," said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. "But the concept behind it is powerful. Little by little our currency is being devalued. . It's a little pushback on one hand, but on the other, maybe it will make us look at the value of our currency and strengthen it."
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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