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Congress Weighs In on Cryptocurrency Taxation

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,… Continue Reading

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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.

Source: https://www.steptoeblockchainblog.com/2019/04/congress-weighs-in-on-cryptocurrency-taxation/

Blockchain

Members of WallStreetBets Forum Alleged in Telegram Crypto Scam Stealing $2M in BNB and ETH

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Members of the popular WallStreetBets Reddit forum were suspected of a presumable cryptocurrency fraud that could have caused losses of no less than $2 million. By creating a designated Telegram group, they duped investors by guaranteeing remarkable returns through capitalizing on the recent crypto market rally.

The Core of the Hoax

Per a report by Bloomberg, alleged members of the WallStreetBets Reddit Forum used the Telegram messaging service to execute a blatant scam. A particular account by the name of ”WallStreetBets – Crypto Pumps” presented users the chance to purchase a new token certified as WSB Finance before it was listed on crypto exchanges. The operation is known as a pre-mine sale.

The essence of the fraud was connected to the recent cryptocurrency boom as bitcoin and most altcoins skyrocketed in value lately. With some of the digital assets reaching 1,000% gains, the targeted WSB members conned investors into sending money without asking questions and with the potential of netting huge profits.

The notorious account also urged users to transfer popular cryptocurrencies such as Binance Coin (BNB) and Ethereum (ETH) to a designated crypto wallet and then to reach its ”token bot” to gain WSB Finance coins.

However, the perpetrators never dispatched those coins. Furthermore, another message on Telegram revealed that the people who had already issued a payment had to send an equivalent amount again or they would risk losing their initial investment.


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The Aftermath

After executing the hoax, more than 3,451 Binance Coins were withdrawn on Tuesday (May, 4th) from the wallet inside the Crypto Pumps messages.

Since the price of BNB at that point was approximately $625, the fraud caused losses of more than $2.1 million. Following the scam, thousands of people expressed their frustration and tried to expose the individuals behind the account. Moreover, the quantity of the other cryptocurrency – ether – still remains a mystery.

Two weeks ago WSB admins warned about offers that might try to take advantage of the forum’s name in order to allure the crypto audience. The ”WallStreetBets – Crypto Pumps” account has been removed from Telegram but whoever managed it left a message that might stun the affected victims:

”Buying Lambo now.”

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/members-of-wallstreetbets-forum-alleged-in-telegram-crypto-scam-stealing-2m-in-bnb-and-eth/

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Blockchain

South Korean Crypto Exchange Accused Of $1.5 Billion Scam

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The South Korean cryptocurrency exchange platform V Global was accused of luring 40,000 people into illicit multi-level deceit. The entire scheme amounts to more than 1.7 million won, which equals $1.5 billion.

The Investigation

As reported by the Korean officials, the police raided many places in the country related to a virtual cryptocurrency exchange, and its notorious CEO – known as LEE – alleged to fundraising without regulatory permission. The authorities blocked the exchange’s cash deposits as a part of the investigation.

In total, the Gyeonggy Nambu Police Agency reported that it searched the exchange’s headquarters in southern Seoul along with 21 other places and froze more than $214 million left in the account.

Another report from today shed more light on the developments. According to Yonhap News, the name of the organization is V Global. The Korean police are examining the accusations against them for fraud under the Certain Economic Crimes Weighted Penalty Act, the Similar Receiving Act, and the door-to-door sales business.

The main accusation against the exchange is gaining a deposit of 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) from 40,000 members in the period between August 2020 and January 2021. The announcement revealed that most of the people were elderly or housewives with no experience in cryptocurrency trading.


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Too Good To Be True

The investigation revealed that the exchange urged investors to entrust their funds to an account and lured the members that the expected return would be three times higher than the initial investment. According to the authorities, there was a pyramid element in the scam as the exchange promised to grant an introduction fee of 1.2 million won ($1,065) for every newly recruited member.

The report affirmed that the trading venue paid some members in the form of a block. Therefore, people who signed up earlier received funds from individuals who entered the exchange later.

Moreover, the Korean police seem confident to deal with the fraud case as it revealed its intention to confiscate 240 billion won ($214 million) left in the V Global account as of the 15th last month, even before the prosecution process.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/south-korean-crypto-exchange-accused-of-1-5-billion-scam/

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Blockchain

Georgia’s central bank is exploring ‘Digital Gel’ CBDC

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The National Bank of Georgia said that it is considering launching a central bank digital currency.

In an announcement today, the central bank hinted at the issuance of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, in an effort “to enhance efficiencies of the domestic payment system and financial inclusion.” The National Bank of Georgia, or NBG, said it would be inviting fintech firms and other financial institutions to participate in the project, named Digital Gel after the symbol for the country’s fiat currency, the lari.

“CBDC holds the promise to unlock the tremendous value of innovative business models for the benefit of society,” said the announcement. “The introduction of CBDC could increase financial intermediation efficiency, help introduce new financial technologies, facilitate financial inclusion, and reach previously unbanked populations.”

However, the bank mentioned the possibility of risks in the launch of a CBDC in the Republic of Georgia given the “new and potentially disruptive technology.” The NBG said it may conduct extensive testing of the CBDC in a controlled environment to ensure a smooth rollout, but did not provide any details regarding a timeline for launch.

With a population of roughly 4 million and a gross domestic product of approximately $15 billion, a nation like Georgia falls at the smaller end of countries exploring CBDCs. The Bahamas officially rolled out its Sand Dollar central bank digital currency in October, while China has been piloting its digital yuan in select cities prior to a full-scale launch. In the United States, Fortune 500 company Accenture announced this week it would be partnering with the Digital Dollar Foundation to conduct CBDC trials.

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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/georgia-s-central-bank-is-exploring-digital-gel-cbdc

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