West Marin Citizen 2010

“Your Coin Questions Answered”

from the West Marin Citizen, May 20 2010

Question: What happens if merchants’ cash registers clog up with coins?

Answer: We think eventually the opposite will be true—the coins will be hard to find and we’ll know it’s time to mint some more. But merchants can trade back coins for dollars at any time by contacting us.

Question: I’ve seen the coin, and it really is beautiful. I know my son would love to have one, two or more. But, my question is, is it legal? To establish another currency? Does it have tax implications? How does a business account for the transaction with the IRS?

Answer: “Mercantile trade tokens,” as they’re called, are quite legal and have been around since pre-revolutionary days in the U.S. Google the term “mercantile trade tokens” and you’ll enter a whole new universe.

Regarding taxes, I’m not an expert by any means, but as I understand it, if you’re a bookseller, say, and sell a book for $21.00, you must charge tax, it doesn’t matter if you’re being paid for the book in dollar bills or in $3 coins.

Think of the exchange of dollars for $3 coins as making change. If you’re a merchant and go over to Flower Power to get 10 coins, it’s like asking Jon to give you five singles for a five dollar bill—or in this case, $30 for 10 coins. There’s been no sale of anything, the merchant has just made change.

Question: I am concerned with all the non-profits out here how the proceeds will be allocated fairly. I think the message that these coins will help West Marin non-profits is too vague to support buy in. Most likely people will hoard them, because they are so cool.

Answer: West Marin non-profits will submit a simple proposal to Coastal Marin Fund describing their needs. The Fund will convene a committee of volunteers from all the participating towns, who will award grants based on these proposals. Stinson/Bolinas Community Fund does something very similar, awarding up to $3000 each to non-profits in that community, based on the non-profits’ needs and requests. The more people who receive a couple of coins and don’t use them, the more money remains in the Fund for distribution to non-profits….

Question: Did Dillon Beach get left off the list? It’s not listed on the coin. Also, is there a chance the coin would be extended to include West Marin’s inland valleys: Nicasio, San Geronimo, Chileno, Hicks…?

Answer: Excluding Dillon Beach was purely a design decision. Nothing personal or political, I assure you. There was simply no room left on the coin to name another town. We could have eliminated the ring of town names entirely, but thought including them would make the coin more appealing to visitors who had traveled through those places. For the same reasons, we’ll probably stick with just the coastal towns of West Marin—at least for now.

So far, where to find, trade, and/or use West Marin currency for cash:

Contact us if you want to be one of them!

If you are a local non-profit (therefore a potential beneficiary of this program), please notify your members about what we are doing. We’re happy to provide images and information for your website.