In an economy where transaction in cash is in vogue, one occasionally comes across a currency note or bill which has partially been damaged on account of prolonged use, or has been taped over. One's first effort is to "pass the buck" at the grocery store, by hiding the damage. If one is honest enough to disclose the damage before handing over the buck to the grocer, the latter simply refuses to accept it. So, one resorts to passing of the buck by deceit.

My question therefore, is: Is it deceitful to transact with a damaged currency note/bill? What does the Catholic Church say about the occasional necessity of "passing the buck" that a believer has to face?

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    Can you not just exchange it at a bank? Is your government not responsible for periodically withdrawing damaged currency from circulation?
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 19 '20 at 4:00
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    Of course, banks authorised for the purpose exchange new notes for the damaged ones free of cost. They are few in number and may not be easily accessible. There are also the agents who charge a fee for the exchange. By the way, while possessing and circulating of fake currency is a criminal offence, passing on of a genuine but damaged note is not considered as such. Mar 19 '20 at 6:38
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    Sounds like the question should then be whether it's sinful to reject legitimate currency. And you should complain to the government that they should make it easier to exchange damaged money.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 19 '20 at 6:55
  • "Is it a sin?" questions are off-topic. This is a question of civil law: either the note is still legal tender, or it is not. If it is, it cannot be illegal to use it; if it is not, then it is fraud to pass it deceitfully. Mar 19 '20 at 8:44
  • I don't know about other countries but in the UK a damaged note (if it still whole) can be changed at a bank for a good note. Or can be deposited into one's own account. There is no need to 'pass the pound'. The promise is on the note itself I promise to pay the bearer etc etc
    – Nigel J
    Mar 19 '20 at 12:08

Banks in Canada and I suppose the US and other developed countries will exchange bills that are damaged as long as they have one complete serial number because they are still considered legal tender.

Thus if a bank note is damaged to this degree stores would be free to accept or reject the money in question.

The Catholic Church would simply demand that the faithful obey the just laws in this regards according to the rules and laws of a particular country, in this regard.

If in doubt a bank will let you know if a particular piece of money is still considered legal tender or not.

To pass one a bank note that one knows is damaged to such a degree that it is no longer acceptable as currency, then that would be morally objectionable in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

If you pass one the buck, make sure it is legal tender first. Deception is a sin and the greater the value of the note the greater the sin.

If in doubt, check it out at a bank!


No, a damaged currency note or coin are still legal tender, if they are legible. In the US, the bill must be at least 50% complete, for obvious reasons. Passing along similar looking foreign currency or coin would be deceitful, though, such as giving change in the US with Canadian coins, which have lesser value.


Many retailers reuse smaller bills for till change, but there is still no real good reason to reject a damaged bill if it has a serial number on it. Few twenties are used for this purpose and definitely not any larger bills, in my experience. Any deceit to pass the legal bill is a matter of trying to bypass a retailers prefer to not have such bills. It would be on par with sneaking mustard onto a hotdog by covering it completely with ketchup when you know the recipient hates mustard.

One caveat, however, if it offends your conscience, don't pass it, deposit it instead.

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