US taxman tries to force tech giants to report users’ crypto activity

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S. is reportedly taking the concept of Big Brother to an extreme. While Bitcoin was never designed to operate outside the scope of legal frameworks, the IRS reportedly wants tech companies to be able to report on the crypto holdings of users of their platforms. If the rumors are true, the ramifications could be wide-reaching.

According to a tweet by “Crypto Tax Girl,” “I recently got hold of a presentation given to special agents in the IRS Criminal Investigation division that discussed investigating taxpayers who hold crypto.” The initial post is followed by a series of explanations of the presentation, which indicate that the IRS wants companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google to be able to check download histories on computers to find crypto-related applications and report the information to the tax entity. 

The presentation, if legitimate, states at one point, “Grand Jury Subpoena should be considered for Apple, Google, and Microsoft for the Subject’s complete application download history. Each application’s function should be explored to determine whether or not the application can transmit, or otherwise allow, transactions in bitcoin.”

Making things even more troubling is the fact that taxpayers would not have to be notified that the information is being obtained. The IRS considers crypto to be property and, per current regulations, property holdings have to be reported to the agency.

The presentation also references gaining access to bank and PayPal accounts in order to look for crypto transactions. Additionally, it wants to have access to Facebook and other social media platforms to look for any publicly available crypto addresses.

Crypto Tax Girl adds, “There is a ton of other information in there about crypto in general, tracing transactions via the blockchain, limitations of the blockchain, etc. but what you need to know is that the IRS is working HARD to identify criminal tax cases involving cryptocurrency.”

There’s nothing wrong with working to identify possible criminal activity. However, the outline of the presentation seems to indicate that the IRS is willing to do whatever it takes to do so, even if it includes infringing on citizens’ personal rights. The agency hasn’t yet responded to the legitimacy of the presentation, and this will be the first step in determining what happens next.

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