Nick Stafford, who has been fighting with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Virginia, decided to pay his $2,987.14 tax bill in pennies.
It took five wheelbarrows to transport the nearly 300,000 coins to the local DMV. All the pennies broke the coin-counting machine and ultimately had to be counted by hand.
Stafford has been fighting with the DMV since September, when he initially tried to call the local office to ask a question about where to register his car, since he owns multiple houses in the area, he explained in a statement.
The phone number listed online for the Lebanon DMV sent him to a customer call center in Richmond, which put him on hold for over an hour. Stafford decided to make a Freedom of Information Act request for a direct number to the DMV, which he was given.
The fight further escalated when Stafford called and was told he wasn't allowed to call the number and was hung up on. Eventually, Stafford was given the answer to his initial question, but he said he wanted government agencies to be more responsive to public inquiries. He even demanded to know the direct numbers of other Virginia DMVs, taking the issue to court.
"It shouldn't matter if you pay $300 per year in income taxes or pay $300,000 per year in income taxes like myself, because the backbone of a free democracy/republic begins with government transparency, period," he said.
The total weight of the pennies was 1,548 pounds, Stafford said. He said the DMV was required by law to accept the unrolled pennies because of a federal act that specifies coins to be "legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."
It took staff at the local DMV more than 12 hours to count the coins, according to Stafford's statement. Several employees stayed late to finish the count.
The Bristol Herald Courier reported that Stafford hired 11 people to help him break open the rolled coins the night before he delivered them. It took four hours for his employees to break all the paper rolls with hammers, and he paid each person $10 per hour, bringing the total to $440. He also bought the wheelbarrows, costing another $400.
He also paid $1,005 to file his three lawsuits, arguing for more DMV numbers and for its employees to be fined. He was given the other phone numbers, but a judge ultimately dismissed the cases.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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