Why is it illegal to burn money in the US?

In the time of necessity or in the other scenario, we have seen many examples during our life span of burning dollar bills. 

But there ought to be a reason why is it illegal to burn money in the US (America). We have seen many Bond movies or any other Hollywood movie where the main character of the story burns the bundle of dollar bills in a few seconds.

On magic shows, you can see tricksters or magicians tearing the bill to show their trick and many times, setting a dollar bill ablaze to illustrate their talent. A juvenile at the fair, pressing a penny into a copper-and-zinc keepsake, breaking the law?

In some ferocious rallies & strikes, we have seen people burning dollars to show their anger toward the government. 

Why is it illegal to burn money in the US? What is the reason behind it?

 On the one hand, the disdainful treatment of a coin or a bill is considered an expression of free speech, covered under the First Amendment. 

As such, the act might occupy a legal status of “expressive conduct” akin to flag burning, as set out by the American Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson (491 US 397 (1989)) and the United States v. Eichman (496 US 310 (1990)).

In the United States, igniting banknotes is restricted under 18 U.S.C. & 333: Mutilation of national bank deficits, which contains anything that affects a note unfit to be reissued.

If you have old tidy bills which cannot be used for buying anything, turning cash into ashes is strictly prohibited by the United States Bureau of Printing and Engraving, which prints all the paper currency for the United States. 

As I have mentioned above, this is a violation of title 18, section 333 of the United States Code, which states; “whoever harms, cuts, deforms, pierces, torn in pieces, unites or glues together, or tempers to any bank bill, draft, note, or other proof of obligation administered by some national banking institution, Federal Reserve Bank or Federal Reserve System with an intent to induce such item(s) unacceptable to be reissued, and shall be penalized not more than $100 or jailed not more than six months, or both.” The law is implemented by the Secret Service.

Why is it illegal to burn money in the US? If we try to figure out hypothetically with an exemplary situation, money burners are not easy to catch. 

If you are stuck in an isolated place and trying to start a fire, and the only paper you’ve got is cash, you’ll probably get away with the crime. But in that scenario, you can try to avoid lighting the match, when you see a guy in a black suit with sunglasses passing.

There is a genuine reason the government puts a keen sight over eliminating or defacing, disfiguring currency is that it has to substitute it; Definitely, it costs money to make banknotes — almost a nickel per note. Demand for dollars is immense around the globe. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces around 37 million banknotes in a day with a market value of roughly $696 million. 

As per states of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there is approximately $675 billion in cash in circulation. The bulk of dollar bills is outside the United States. But that amount is not specified; it increases and decreases based on how much currency banks need to preserve in their ATMs and support the United States economy.

The Federal bank oversees the pool of banknotes by purchasing and trading Treasury debt from banks. Well, these are some hidden secrets that a nominal crowd is unaware about. 

But as money circulates, the Federal Reserve Bank takes an aged, exhausted bill out of circulation and substitutes them with crisp new printed ones. Despite those statutes against maltreating it, paper money (liquid money) still suffers a thrashing. The average lifespan of a one-dollar bill is around a year and a half.


If you burn old notes which you think are retired and cannot be brought into use again, it causes you strict penalization. Instead of burning the old & retired notes, you can submit them to a bank or ask a bank to assist you in giving you new bills after accepting the old ones from you. 

I hope you will receive the appropriate information on Why is it illegal to burn money in the US? 

Authored By Sahil
Greetings to all visitors. I am Sahil, the editor and Writer of the website. I am the founder of quicklyusnews.com; I cherish publishing articles about Nature, Politics, Technology & Facts on the Internet for awareness and scholarly people.

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