Leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has notified thousands of its users that it is about to hand over their personal details to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Affected are those Coinbase members who were the heaviest users of the exchange between 2013 and 2015.
Cryptocurrency populariser and pundit Andreas Antonopoulos was one of those who had received the request. “My account is one of the 13,000 that they will have to turn over to the IRS under the court order”, he said on Twitter, adding that he had “filed & paid taxes for my Bitcoin income, gains/losses”.
The court order mandates Coinbase to provide the “taxpayer ID, name, birth date, address, and historical transaction records for certain higher-transacting customers during the 2013-2015 period.”
The original IRS request occurred in December 2016 and was for “a wide range of records relating to approximately 500,000 Coinbase customers”. This was fought by Coinbase who considered it an “unwarranted intrusion from the government”. The reduction in both the number of affected customers, from half a million to 14,000 to 13,000, and the amount of data being revealed about each customer, is described by Coinbase as “a partial, but still significant, victory for Coinbase and its customers”.
The relationship between cryptocurrencies and tax authorities is thorny and yet to be resolved, partly because there is still so much confusion over which taxes are applicable, and when. The court order says that “capital gain or loss for property transactions, including those from virtual currency” are to be “reported on IRS Form 8949”. However, for the years in question (2013-15), “only 800 to 900 persons electronically filed a Form 8949 that included a property description that is ‘likely related to bitcoin’”.
Since 2015 the situation seems little improved. Tax-filing software Credit Karma recently revealed that of the 250,000 of its customers who had filed their tax returns this year, fewer than 100 had reported cryptocurrency transactions.
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