Why is it illegal to burn money in the US?
In this article, you’ll learn about:
Let’s dig in.
Yes, it is illegal to burn money in almost all countries.
Burning money is a form of destruction of the currency.
Under the United States code, burning money is a federal criminal offense and:
you can face fines
you can face prison time for up to five years
The government cares if you destroy their currency because it affects the entire economy.
(Imagine millions of people destroying the government’s money.)
Currency is a form of government-backed money.
And it gets used as a medium of exchange in the economy.
Destroying a currency note reduces the amount of money available in circulation.
This can lead to decreased economic activity and inflation.
Destroying money can lead to inflation because it reduces the amount of money in circulation.
When fewer dollars are available, the value of each dollar bill increases.
This can lead to an increase in the prices of goods and services in the economy.
An increase in the value of the dollar does not mean that:
Burning money is illegal in the US.
This is because it is destroying US currency.
Burning money is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code.
Burning money is a form of vandalism under the criminal code and is punishable by:
up to six months in jail
a fine of up to $100,000
Title 18 of the United States Code states that:
“Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
This federal law states that you are not able to do the following to money:
Burning money and government regulations are not tied to:
The federal reserve system is the central banking system.
Its role is to regulate:
These regulations help:
National bank obligations are regulated by the Federal Reserve Bank.
These obligations are enforced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
The national banking association is responsible for:
The US government regulation is supposed to:
You can’t destroy, deface, or burn money in the US.
But, how long does money actually last?
Here is the average lifespan of money:
And here’s the average lifespan of newly minted coins:
When a dollar reaches its average lifespan, it’s taken out of circulation.
But, the Fed does not send it to money burners.
They shred the bill and recycle that paper for new currency.
When you earn money, who does that money belong to?
The money belongs to you and it’s your own money.
And it’s not the US government’s money.
But, they do have regulations to protect the value of the money.
(Interesting since they print so much, eh?)
And to make sure it’s not wasted or destroyed.
The laws that state that money is owned by the people are:
No, burning money is not considered protected speech.
Burning money in the US is considered:
These acts are not protected by the First Amendment.
This is not the same as burning the American flag.
Burning the American flag is a form of symbolic speech.
It’s seen as a way of expressing dissatisfaction with:
Burning money is not seen as a form of expression.
And it is not protected by the First Amendment.
Let’s look at other things that are not legal.
No, it is not illegal to cut money in and of itself.
(As long as it gets done in a legal manner.)
It is not illegal to cut paper bills to cancel or prevent them from getting used again.
It is also not illegal to cut a coin in half to prove its authenticity.
It is illegal to cut paper money into smaller pieces to use it as a form of currency.
This is because it’s considered counterfeiting and is punishable by law.
Yes, it is illegal to deface money.
Under Federal law, it is illegal to:
“mutilate, cut, deface, disfigure, or perforate, or unite or cement together, or do any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued.”
It is illegal to try to pass the bill off as a large denomination by:
This is counterfeiting, which is a federal crime.
The penalties for defacing currency can range from a fine to up to 6 months in jail.
Yes, it is illegal to write on money in the United States.
The U.S. Secret Service investigates and prosecutes violations of the laws.
In particular, violations relating to currency and counterfeiting.
No, ripping money is not illegal.
But it is not a good practice.
Ripping money can damage the currency.
This makes it harder for the money to get spent.
Yes, destroying money is illegal in the United States.
Money is a part of the national currency and gest protected by law.
Anyone destroying money can face legal consequences.
This includes tearing up bills or writing on them.
It is also illegal to deface coins by:
If a person destroys money, they could face:
No, throwing away money is not illegal.
Here are some other questions we dug up in our research.
No, it is illegal to burn money in the US.
It is considered to be destroying legal tender.
And this is against the law.
Things that are considered defacing money are:
You can use any amount of a ripped dollar.
So long as the important features of the bill are still visible.
But, some merchants may not accept a bill that is too damaged.
They can use their own judgment to accept a ripped dollar or not.