Questions? Ask a Librarian
Currency, Legal Tender, Bitcoins & More
Start here to find answers to frequently asked questions about traditional currency, such as the US dollar. Also included are links on Bitcoins and virtual currency. Visit our Banking Law page for information about banking regulation, bank accounts, and checks.
Agencies / Organizations
Find consumer and collector information, and complaint procedures from the following agencies:
- WI Dept. of Financial Institutions
Oversees currency exchanges in Wisconsin.
- US Dept. of the Treasury
- US Federal Reserve
Responsible for issuing Federal Reserve notes, the primary form of currency used in the United States.
- US Mint
Manufactures & distributes coins and national medals.
- Consumers & Coin Collecting (US Mint)
- Counterfeit Currency (US Secret Service)
- Currency Design & History (US Bureau of Engraving & Printing)
- Currency & Coin FAQs (US Dept. of the Treasury)
- Legal Tender Status (US Dept. of the Treasury)
On business, government agency, or private acceptance of only certain kinds of payment or denominations of currency.
- Sale of Coins FAQ (US Mint)
- Use of "In God We Trust" on Currency (Library of Congress)
Cryptocurrency & Bitcoins
Bitcoin is the most well known cryptocurrency or virtual currency with changes in the law and treatment of such currencies happening all the time.
- Before paying with bitcoins (FTC)
- Bitcoin Advisory (WI Dept. of Financial Institutions, April 2014)
- Bitcoin Regulation by Jurisdiction (Library of Congress)
- Bitcoin: Questions, Answers, and Analysis of Legal Issues (Congressional Research Service)
- Virtual Currency & Tax Treatment (IRS)
- Virtual Economies & Currencies, 2013 Report (US Gov't Accountability Office)
Gold and Silver
Some states have passed laws exempting the exchange of gold and silver from sales tax. However, Wisconsin is not one of those states.
- Investing in Gold (Federal Trade Commission)
- Is US Currency Still Backed by Gold? (US Federal Reserve)
The Law (Additional statutes, regulations & opinions may apply to your specific situation.)
- WI Statutes: s. 218.05 "Community Currency Exchanges"
- 12 US Code ch. 3 subchapter XII "Federal Reserve Notes"
- 31 US Code s.5103 "Legal Tender"
Law Review Articles
- Regulating Cryptocurrencies in the United States: Current Issues and Future Directions
40 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 813