The Internal Revenue Service has been using bitcoin tracking software since as far back as 2015, according to information obtained today.
In a report obtained by Washington media sources, details of the partnership between the IRS and bitcoin tracking startup Chainalysis have emerged for the first time, highlighting the IRS’s direct interest in bitcoin transactions for the first time.
Findings published in the Daily Beast showed the partnership has led to Chainalysis being paid some $88,000, and is scheduled to continue until at least September, under the terms of their service contract.
The news has come as a surprise to the bitcoin community, with IRS oversight previously unconfirmed.
According to the IRS in the documentation obtained by the Daily Beast, the software is essential in allowing the tax agency to “…trace the movement of money through the bitcoin economy.”
Confirming their intentions to use the information for intelligence purposes in investigating tax and other financial offenses, the IRS were resolute in their determination to use the bitcoin tracking information made available to them by Chainalysis.
“This is necessary to identify and obtain evidence on individuals using bitcoin to either launder money or conceal income as part of tax fraud or other Federal crimes.”
While many may have assumed the IRS was already following bitcoin transactions closely, the news is significant given several pending legal cases, including allegations raised against leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.
IRS fears of tax evasion and money laundering through digital currencies have driven them to become increasingly interested in obtaining records from companies like Coinbase, which could have far-reaching implications for the wider bitcoin community.
The IRS has demanded Coinbase submit information and records dating back several years, a move that has thus far been resisted by the company, who are looking to reduce the scope of the IRS demands in court.
Coin Center and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have both backed the Coinbase stance in separate filings, aiming to pin back the IRS in their attempts to access as much information about parties to bitcoin transactions as possible.
The news comes at a time of growing calls for increased scrutiny over bitcoin transactions, including amongst several high profile US lawmakers.