The federal government could save $4.4 billion over the next 30 years if it replaced $1 bills with $1 coins, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
The switch would be because of increased seigniorage, the difference between the cost of producing coins or notes and their face value -- it reduces government borrowing and interest costs, resulting in a financial benefit to the government.
GAO’s estimate takes into account processing and production changes that occurred in 2011, including the Federal Reserve’s use of new equipment to determine the quality and authenticity of notes, which has increased the expected life of the note thereby reducing the costs of circulating a note over 30 years.
The $1 note is expected to last 4.7 years and the $1 coin 30 years.
Since coins are more durable than notes, many countries have replaced lower-denomination notes with coins to obtain a financial benefit, among other reasons.
Six times over the past 22 years, GAO has reported that replacing the $1 note with a $1 coin would provide a net benefit to the federal government of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.