The United States Department of Justice has granted the country’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permission to submit a request for transaction information on users who have transacted more than $20k during the 2016 to 2020 period.
The requests, commonly known as a “John Doe summons,” are designed to find information about any US taxpayer who fulfilled the conditions mentioned above, with its range extending to Kraken and its parent company Payward Ventures Inc.
Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, David A. Hubbert, referred to the decision by stating:
“Gathering the information in the summons approved today is an important step to ensure cryptocurrency owners are following the tax laws, Those who transact with cryptocurrency must meet their tax obligations like any other taxpayer”
The IRS is currently running an “investigation of an ascertainable group or class of persons” who it claims might have failed to comply with their tax obligations, which could result in economic and legal consequences for those involved.
While the press release states that Kraken is not under suspicion of any wrongdoing at the time, the IRS will also check if the exchange has been compliant with current regulations, including anti-laundering policies and know-your-customer (KYC) rules.
The Summon is Becoming a Recurring Practice
The decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is not an isolated case as the entity has previously granted the IRS permission to submit a John Doe summons to Coinbase and Circle Internet Financial.
The DOJ approved the request regarding Coinbase back in November of 2016, stating back then that, “Transactions in virtual currency are taxable just like those in any other property.”
In that instance, the summon didn’t specify a minimum value for the transactions of users who needed to have their data requested, which was received with criticism by the crypto community.
Earlier this year, a similar request was approved to request the submission of information by Circle, a peer-to-peer payment technology company and digital currency exchange based in Boston.
The two moves come at a time when different government organizations have shown an increasing interest in regulating cryptocurrencies, moving against platforms and users who have used the technology to bypass local financial regulations.
Declare Your Crypto: IRS
With cryptocurrency growing in popularity, the IRS has found more reasons to request exchanges and users to submit information on their transactions using digital currencies as this could represent a big source of income for the United States Government.
While the US government still has a long way to go when it comes to bringing regulatory clarity to the table, this has not prevented different entities from taking actions against private and institutional investors, as well as crypto companies, who have actively participated in the market.
The John Doe summons approved by the DOJ is some of such examples, as they request information for a period of time in which clarity about crypto taxation was not well known by the public in a taxation system that is already one of the most complex to navigate of any nation in the world.
Regulation and taxation around digital assets have also become one of the major drivers around the increasing popularity of Decentralized Exchanges and similar platforms that do not require the completion of Anti-Money laundering or Know-Your-Customer request, as this invasion of privacy is contrary to the ethos of crypto that many of its users follow.
While regulation around cryptocurrency legitimizes the industry to some extent, it also has the power to deter investment by private companies on developing technologies and services that are subject to the oversight of federal regulators.
The nature of crypto can make it difficult and expensive to comply with requests for information and other measures.