The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is taking the concept of Big Brother to another level. According to information from an IRS presentation that was shared by a Twitter user, the body that is responsible for collecting the country’s tax collections is reportedly considering to make tech giants report user crypto activity.
According to the document that went viral yesterday, on 9th July, the IRS is seeking to use Grand Jury summons on giant tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple to monitor user download history for crypto-related activities.
The identity of the Twitter user who shared the presentation that was meant for IRS agents in the Criminal Investigation Department has been revealed. Known as Crypto Tax Girl on the social media platform, Laura Walter is not your ordinary Twitter user as she is a certified public accountant and a cryptocurrency tax expert.
You would think that these subpoenas would be served to crypto exchanges, but the IRS plans on serving them to Apple, Google, and Microsoft in order to search through taxpayers' download history to see if they have ever downloaded cryptocurrency applications.
— Crypto Tax Girl (@CryptoTaxGirl) July 8, 2019
Quoting the presentation, Laura believes that the Tax body is conducting thorough research into the exposure of criminal tax evasion incidents that involve cryptocurrencies. As such, the taxman is preparing to carry out open-source and social media searches, electronic surveillance as well as interviews to crack down on tax evaders, the specialist noted.
A segment of the over 180-page document reads:
“For Apple, Microsoft, and Google, Grand Jury Subpoena should be used for the subject’s complete crypto activity download history. As such, each user function should be investigated to determine whether or not the user can transfer, or otherwise receive, a transaction in cryptocurrency, Bitcoin more specifically.”
As Laura stresses the point that the presentation was not meant for the public, it is clear the IRS agents were under instruction not to inform taxpayers about the obtaining of personal information that touches on their cryptocurrency usage. The intention behind this act was to avoid damaging the investigations.
According to the information, we have gathered, the IRS is yet to confirm or deny the authenticity and origin of the presentation.
Going by the information the presentation provides, the IRS is hoping to effect subpoenas to specific tech companies. The intention behind this is to check the user bank account(s) and PayPal information that has a connection with cryptocurrency transactions.
Moreover, it is believed the taxman is looking into ways of investigating social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook to finding and recording available crypto addresses.
On her Twitter handle, Crypto Girl concluded the thread by saying:
“In the publication, there is a lot of other information about cryptocurrency. From tracing settlements via blockchain, the limits of blockchain technology among many other things. What you need to know is that IRS is working round the clock to identify tax evasion cases that involve cryptocurrency.”
There is nothing wrong with the IRS working to identify possible tax evasion cases. However, the framework of the presentation paints a picture that the Tax body is willing to do whatever it has to do, even if it includes infringing the personal rights of individuals, to carry out their mission.
According to James Daniel, cyber-crime analyst manager working with IRS-CI, the 181-page presentation lays out a plan to extract information from taxpayers, checking their online history. The extraction process involves investigating the taxpayer’s online history checkup whether they have downloaded any cryptocurrency application. The mission of the presentation is to give IRS agents a framework to use when investigating and identifying a person who holds or trades cryptocurrencies.
The rising number of cases involving tax evasion from cryptocurrency trading is said to be the main reason why such strict actions are being implemented.
According to information put out by the IRS, only about 800 people who were involved with cryptocurrency filed their tax in 2015, regardless of whether they made profits or losses.
Recently one of the leading crypto exchange platforms, Coinbase, was forced to give details of crypto transactions that occurred between 2013 and 2015. The crypto exchange had no option but to provide information on people whose crypto dealings exceeded 20,000 USD.
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