Bipartisan members of the House are advocating for more clarity in the tax law as it relates to taxation of cryptocurrency.
First, on April 9, Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, reintroduced legislation that would provide clarity on certain tax and securities law issues related to cryptocurrency. The bill, entitled the “Token Taxonomy Act of 2019,” resembles the original bill that Davidson introduced in the 115th Congress with Congressional Blockchain Caucus co-chair Darren Soto (D-FL). The 2019 version of the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Soto, Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ted Budd (R-NC), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) (who has announced she is running for President).
Davidson said in a statement that “[t]he Token Taxonomy Act is the key to unlocking blockchain technology in America. Without it, the U.S. is surrendering its innovative origins and ownership of the digital economy to Europe and Asia.”
The bill would enact a number of new tax provisions. The new tax provisions apply only to “virtual currency,” which is generally defined as “a digital representation of value that is used as a medium of exchange,” and so would not apply to digital tokens that are not used as a medium of exchange. The tax provisions of the bill would:
- Expand like-kind exchanges under section 1031 to include virtual currencies. The tax legislation enacted at the end of 2017 limited like-kind exchanges completed after December 31, 2017 to exchanges of real property. However, taxpayers would still need to determine whether exchanged virtual currencies are treated as “like kind” in seeking to qualify for this tax-deferred treatment. As a result, the ability to conduct like-kind exchanges of virtual currencies would be uncertain, as it was prior to 2018.
- Create a de minimis exclusion from gross income for up to $600 (indexed to inflation) of gain from certain sales or exchanges of virtual currency for property other than cash or cash equivalents. This provision would help taxpayers avoid recognizing gain when they use appreciated virtual currencies for small consumer transactions. Under current law, a taxpayer who purchases even a small item—such as a cup of coffee—with appreciated virtual currency generally recognizes gain on the increase in the value of the virtual currency during the time that they held it.
- Authorize the Treasury Department to issue regulations providing for information returns on transactions in virtual currency for which gain or loss is recognized. It is unclear how current information reporting rules apply to many virtual currency transactions. Guidance from Treasury could be very helpful to taxpayers who want to ensure that they are compliant with tax reporting rules. However, in order to create an administrable system that is not overly burdensome to taxpayers, the guidance would have to be implemented in a way that is sensitive to the unique issues surrounding transactions executed via blockchain.
- Clarify that an IRA may hold virtual currencies under rules similar to those currently in place for certain metallic coins or bullion.
Although the bill has bipartisan support, the challenge will be to find a vehicle for passage. Possibilities include an extenders package or disaster relief, but including additional tax provisions will likely face opposition.
Second, on April 11, a group of 21 bipartisan members of Congress sent a letter to the IRS urging them to provide guidance on the tax consequences for taxpayers that use virtual currencies. While the letter acknowledges the 2014 guidance released by the IRS, it stresses that there are still many open questions. It identified three areas where there is an “urgent need” for guidance: (1) how to calculate the cost basis of virtual currencies; (2) how to allocate basis to particular lots of virtual currencies; and (3) the tax treatment of forks.
Although the IRS has been considering cryptocurrency guidance, it currently has its hands full with implementing the 2017 tax legislation. It is possible that the IRS will consider “informal” guidance, such as FAQs on its website, as previewed by Commissioner Rettig last November.
Coinbase Targets Direct Nasdaq Listing of its Class A Common Stock
After the confidential submission of a draft registration statement to become a publicly-traded company announced last year, Coinbase has taken a major step to be listed on the giant US stock exchange – Nasdaq.
- CryptoPotato reported earlier that Coinbase had submitted a confidential draft registration statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public via a direct listing instead of an IPO. Initial estimations suggested that the potential valuation was at about $28 billion.
- Earlier today, the company announced that it had filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Commission “relating to a proposed public direct listing of its Class A common stock.”
- This signifies a vital step towards becoming a publicly-traded company. Coinbase plans to list its Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “COIN.”
- It’s worth noting, though, that while the registration statement has been filed, it has yet to become effective. As the company explained it:
“These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective.”
- Furthermore, Coinbase asserted that its filing doesn’t “constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.”
- The company reported that its net revenue results for 2020 were substantially larger than the 2019 numbers – $1.1 billion against $483 million. The expenses had also increased from $580 million in 2019 to nearly $870 million last year.
Polkadot, Ethereum Classic, IOST Price Analysis: 25 February
Polkadot saw a bounce to $36 after touching $28 over the past few days, but it has once again sunk beneath the $34 mark. Ethereum Classic also found some resistance at the $12 mark, and IOST showed rising bearish pressure.
The Supertrend indicator showed a sell signal for DOT after it slipped beneath the descending channel (cyan) and plunged to $28. However, since then it has made a recovery toward $34-but whether this is more of a bounce rather than a recovery is a pertinent question.
At the time of writing, trading volume did not really back the recent price rise, indicating that it was indeed a bounce. The Awesome Oscillator showed bearish momentum, but no real strength over the past few hours.
Key levels to watch out for are $34.5 and $36 above it. A rejection would indicate bearish strength, while a flip to support can be used to enter a long position on a retest.
Ethereum Classic [ETC]
Using the Fibonacci retracement tool for ETC’s drop from $18 to $9, some levels of importance are highlighted. The RSI showed bears were in control of the market over the past couple of days, as the RSI stayed beneath the neutral 50 value.
The Parabolic SAR climbed into overbought territory even as the price slipped beneath the 38.2% retracement level- which was not an encouraging sign for the bulls.
It is likely that ETC would continue to move lower, toward the $10.75 mark once more.
IOST was in a steady short-term decline. It attempted a recovery, on strong trading volume, to $0.059 from the depths of $0.039. However, bears were able to force the price lower once more.
An interesting aspect is a lack of buying strength when IOST began to slip after a rejection at $0.059. This showed that bears were in control. The levels that bulls would try to defend are the $0.044 and $0.039 levels.
A defense of either of these levels over the next couple of days would point toward weakening bearish pressure in the short-term, and another possible recovery back toward $0.059.
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Inside the blockchain developer’s mind: Koinos approaches testnet
Cointelegraph is following the development of an entirely new blockchain from inception to mainnet and beyond through its series, Inside the Blockchain Developer’s Mind. In Part Four, Andrew Levine of Koinos Group discusses some of the challenges the team has faced since identifying the key issues they intend to solve.
In this post I will summarize the solutions we’ve developed to these problems, which we will be showcasing in the upcoming Koinos testnet planned for the second quarter of 2021.
Since that series Koinos Group has successfully launched a token, KOIN, as a proof of work mineable token on Ethereum. By using proof of work to distribute the initial token supply we were able make the token accessible to early adopters and forgo an ICO.
Assessing the ICO model
ICOs and similar token sale tools, while not without their use cases, have created their own crisis within the space by misaligning incentives before development even begins. The issue is not with the ICO as a tool, but what happens when a team is financially rewarded before they have even shipped a product.
While so many projects have followed in the footsteps of Bitcoin, it’s surprising how few have replicated arguably the most successful aspect of its launch; a token distribution exclusively through proof of work.
The benefit of this approach is that it ensures with algorithmic certainty that the people behind the blockchain have no advantage in acquiring the token. In short, everyone, no matter who they are, has to make a financial sacrifice in order to acquire that token and the scale of that sacrifice is determined by some neutral third party. In the case of proof of work, that neutral third party is the manufacturer of hardware.
For Koinos Group, that means we had to spend money to acquire our token just like everyone else. In fact, because we have to spend most of our time developing the product, we are even at a disadvantage relative to professional miners. So we have to keep working to add value to the protocol if we’d like to get a return on our investment.
Proof of work algorithms are not without their problems, but we mitigated those in a few ways.
- First, the mainnet will be governed by a totally different consensus algorithm that won’t be proof of work or proof of stake, so any attempt to develop an ASIC would be a waste of resources.
- Second, we made the algorithm GPU resistant.
- Third, we released this token long before releasing our mainnet. In fact, we released the token long before we had even completed development of our framework. Without a functional product, this token becomes a way for people who believe in our team and who share our vision for a fee-less smart contract platform to acquire the token at a reasonable cost.
Rapid rate of improvement
Part of what makes this launch strategy work is the innovative property set of Koinos. We built Koinos totally from scratch, not around any single feature like transactions per second or sharding, but with the goal of creating a blockchain that would improve at a much more rapid rate than any other blockchain out there.
In our experience developing the Steem blockchain, the need to execute hard forks was the single biggest factor holding back progress. If we wanted to eliminate that bottleneck, we reasoned, moving as much of the system code as possible into smart contracts that could be upgraded in-band would do the trick.
That’s why the Koinos blockchain framework contains only the most basic blockchain features (called “thunks”) like contract input/input, getting parameters, and writing to the database. All of the more complex features that people are more familiar with (consensus algorithm, accounts, resource management, governance, etc.) have been moved into modular WASM smart contracts running in the virtual machine that can be upgraded without a hard fork.
Because all behaviors are now coded in distinct “modules” that can be individually “upgraded” we call this feature modular upgradeability.
As a result of modular upgradeability, any behavior can be added to the blockchain without a hard fork because individual upgrades can be distributed in blocks and transactions that are pushed to the network much like an operating system patch, but with the added benefit of an on-chain record of the entire upgrade path.
By moving nearly all of the system code of the blockchain to smart contract modules that can be upgraded without a hard fork we have made Koinos into a blockchain that derives its strength not from the features it is born with, but based on its ability to rapidly acquire new and better features faster than anything else out there.
This is why we call Koinos the first blockchain capable of evolution.
Modular upgradeability was just the first major technical innovation that we developed to make Koinos less monolithic and an order of magnitude more upgradeable. Just like there is code that does not need to be implemented natively (in the blockchain itself) but that can be implemented as smart contracts (most of it in fact), there is plenty of code that does not need to be implemented either natively or as smart contracts and can instead be implemented as microservices.
Microservice architectures have many benefits which is why this has become the industry standard for modern software development, but one major benefit is scalability because individual services can be scaled up without having to scale up the entire system. This can dramatically reduce the cost of running a network while improving both the speed and quality of improvements to that network. As a result of historical accidents, blockchain stacks appear to be the last to adopt this new standard as Koinos will be the first blockchain built on a microservice architecture.
This creates amazing new opportunities for developers who will be able to build application specific microservices for Koinos that will help them run their nodes, and their applications, more efficiently; and as a consequence deliver better user experiences. Best of all, this will make Koinos node operation more accessible, thereby improving decentralization, and enabling the network as a whole to run more efficiently so that developers and their end-users can get more out of their decentralized applications.
Another benefit of a microservice architecture is that individual microservices (basically small programs) can be written in the best (fastest, most secure, best libraries, etc.) programming language for the job, a capability we also wanted to offer for smart contract developers. But in order to take advantage of this trait we needed to develop a way for these small programs written in different languages to “talk” to one another in a way that conformed to the unique needs of a decentralized network. To solve this problem we created a cross-language serialization framework named Koinos Types.
Koinos Types is like the Rosetta Stone for blockchain data structures. It allows programs written in different languages to talk to one another in a simple and unified way by giving them access to the same objects (the “building blocks” of modern programming languages). Koinos Types allows for the interpretation of Koinos (i.e. blockchain) data structures in practically any programming language which will be extremely useful for the development of blockchain-related microservices, clients, and smart contracts.
Koinos Types solves a number of problems. It helps us add multi-language support to Koinos more generally (including for smart contracts), it enables microservices to communicate with one another, and it makes it far easier to develop and update client-libraries. While modular upgradeability and the microservices architecture alone make Koinos far more upgradeable than any other blockchain, Koinos Types takes that upgradeability to another level. That’s why we were so excited to make Koinos Types the first piece of Koinos that we open sourced.
As you can see, ensuring that Koinos can improve at a more rapid rate than any other blockchain isn’t about any one feature.
- It’s about getting the incentives right from the beginning.
- It’s about ensuring that the blockchain has modular upgradeability.
- It’s about modularizing the very architecture itself as microservices.
- And it’s about making sure that developers operating at every level of the stack (not just smart contracts) are able to use the programming languages they already know and love.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
Andrew Levine is the CEO of Koinos Group, where he and the former development team behind the Steem blockchain build blockchain-based solutions that empower people to take ownership and control over their digital selves. Their foundational product is Koinos, a high-performance blockchain built on an entirely new framework architected to give developers the features they need in order to deliver the user experiences necessary to spread blockchain adoption to the masses.
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