One of the notable aspects of the 2012 federal budget is the plan to withdraw the penny from circulation as currency.

While its practical utility has diminished into irrelevancy over time, the copper coin has earned a special place in our lexicon. To be sure, check’s list of some of the most famous “penny quotes.” The ones most often heard in the realm of condominiums include:

“penny wise, pound foolish”
“pinching pennies”
“a penny saved is a penny earned”
“won’t pay a penny more”
“collect every penny”
“worth every penny”

Given the tough economic times and the frugality that perpetually pervades condominium finances, the one cent coin will likely hold its place in our society’s linguistic repertoire for decades to come, long after it vanishes from our pockets and purses.

Before it disappears for good, however, people emptying their piggy banks and coin jars may be inclined to unload their treasure trove upon some unsuspecting merchant or, god forbid, condominium corporation. But is a recipient legally obliged to accept a large number of coins as payment of a debt?

The answer, in a word, is “no.”

According to section 8 of the federal Currency Act, a tender of coins is indeed legal tender, but only up to the following daily maximums:

$40 if paid in coins with a face value of $2 to $10;

$25 if paid in loonies;

$10 if paid in coins with a face value between 10 and 99 cents;

$5 if paid in nickels; and

$0.25 if paid in pennies.

If faced with a payment of coins greater than these maximums, one can simply refuse to accept the payment by virtue of this section and direct the payer to visit a bank to trade the coins for bills or a draft.  This is the perfect answer to some ne’er-do-well’s diabolical scheme to ruin a property manager’s day by paying this month’s common expenses in pennies, nickels and dimes.

In our increasingly cashless society, the better practice for condominium corporations and their management firms is to refuse cash entirely.  This helps simplify accounting and reduce fraud.  Other than in vending or laundry machines, cash and coins have no place in condos anymore.

A penny for your thoughts?

A hat tip also to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta for highlighting this obscure statutory provision just three weeks before budget day. An uncanny prediction!