Anyone who follows our tax blog, or the digital currency industry generally, is already aware that the past few years have marked an exceptionally chaotic period for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). However, while you may already know that Bitcoin has experienced dramatic price fluctuations since 2017 – or that the IRS spent more than a year battling California-based crypto exchange Coinbase for access to thousands of customer records – you may not be up-to-date on the numerous legislative proposals, aimed at improving and standardizing the regulation of virtual currencies, that are currently winding their way through Congress. Our Bitcoin tax lawyers discuss just a few – and the future implications they may have for Bitcoin miners, sellers, investors, and other taxpayers.
Our cryptocurrency tax attorneys have repeatedly discussed the ongoing difficulties faced by the IRS – which has already received several sets of recommendations, from sources like the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) – in regulating, alongside other government agencies, cryptocurrency tokens like BTC.
For example, the Internal Revenue Service has stated in Notice 2014-21, which was the IRS’ initial effort at introducing cryptocurrency tax regulations, that, “For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property,” adding, “General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency,” before clarifying further, “Under currently applicable law, virtual currency is not treated as currency that could generate foreign currency gain or loss for U.S. federal tax purposes.” However, the IRS is merely one among several government agencies with an interest in Bitcoin regulation, and thus, its classification of digital currencies as “property” may leave unanswered questions, or create non-uniform standards, for many businesses and individuals. For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates the financial industry, considers cryptocurrency tokens securities, like stocks and bonds, when they are issued as part of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
Congress may be able to provide a greater degree of clarity – and uniformity – through the introduction of new legislation, as it often has when technological innovations have emerged in the past. (For example, during the 1990s, the rise of the internet spurred Congress to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996.) Below, we have compiled just a few of the cryptocurrency-related bills that are currently pending in Congress, which include the following:
In a turbulent political era many would say is shaped by the forces of gridlock and partisanship, it remains to be seen whether the aforementioned bills, or others like them, will successfully make it through Congress to become law. However, regardless of the bills’ ultimate fates in Congress, one fact is already certain: the IRS is continuously tightening and reworking extant Bitcoin tax regulations, the enforcement of which has become a top priority in recent years.
Also, we’ve expanded our offices! In addition to our offices in Irvine and Los Angeles, the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing now have offices San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Panorama City, Oxnard, San Diego, Bakersfield, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.
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