A finance manager I know has an interesting dilemma on his hands. With the price of gold soaring past $1,500 per ounce, he's had a customer ask to pay for a truck with gold.
Should the finance manager:
A) Take the gold and file an IRS 8300 form to comply with the federal reporting rule for cash transactions of $10,000 and up.
B) Take the gold without filing Form 8300 because gold doesn't fall under the legal definition of cash.
C) Tell the customer to go to a broker and cash in the gold, then file an 8300 form to report the transaction.
D) Tell the customer to do business elsewhere because he's likely trying to avoid the federal cash reporting requirements, then file an 8300 form to report a suspicious transaction.
I sent that scenario to several industry experts, including an IRS specialist. No one agreed on how to handle it, and the IRS specialist failed to respond.
Those who weighed in, though, had some interesting, even amusing, thoughts.
Dick Heider, accountant: "There is no specific reference in the law or in the form instructions as to gold in and of itself being considered cash. We do not customarily use gold coins as money in this country. However, if the gold coin is an accepted form of currency in the country that it was issued, it seems as if the coins could be considered cash."
Carl Woodward, accountant: "This smells. I would take the customer to a gold dealer and turn gold into cash to pay for the vehicle. It is not worth the risk to do it otherwise. How do you know it is 100 percent gold? It has the appearance of trying to avoid the $10,000 cash reporting rule."
Tom Hudson, attorney: "There's too much there to do it justice without hitting the (law) books. I'd be tempted to ask the customer if he'd be willing to pay the $1,000 to $2,000 in legal fees it would take to answer questions for the dealer, or whether he'd prefer to go sell his gold to a gold dealer and come in with cash."
Mike Charapp, attorney: "I would take it, but don't know if a fee would be necessary to turn it into cash. There would be some sort of commission to turn $30,000 in gold into cash. I'm not sure gold would trigger the cash reporting rule. It takes me back 50 years when my father was a car dealer. People would regularly trade for things. My father once got a diamond ring in exchange for an engine job. My sister still has that ring."
So what would you want for that truck -- a little gold, maybe? It's your call.