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IRS Investigates Tax Evasion by Coinbase Users

Coinbase must release the identity of select customers who transferred currency during the years of 2013-2015. Judge Jacqueline Corley granted the IRS a John Doe summons to collect the information from Coinbase.

Coinbase is a company that handles transactions of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currency. The IRS made a request for the John Doe summons once it suspected Coinbase customers were committing tax evasion. In her ruling, Judge Corley stated that “There is a reasonable basis for believing that such groups or class of persons has failed or may have failed to comply with any provision of any internal revenue laws.”

A John Doe summons is only obtainable for the IRS per federal court rule. The summons doesn’t name a specific person for liability but an unnamed person, persons, or group. The IRS doesn’t hesitate to use this method when it comes to tax shelters or investors.

This ruling in favor of the IRS was a reminder to U.S. taxpayers. Head of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made a comment on the ruling saying:

“Tools like the John Doe summons authorized today send the clear message to U.S. taxpayers that whatever form of currency they use – bitcoin or traditional dollars and cents – we will work to ensure that they are fully reporting their income and paying their fair share of taxes.”

Anyone who made use of Coinbase services between December 31, 2014 and 2015 are the focus of the summons. The IRS is looking for users with a U.S. address, phone number, and even email address. The type of information that will be subject to investigation are, but not necessarily limited to, user profile, security history, and transaction dates and amounts.

Coinbase addressed the ruling by saying:

“We are aware of, and expected, the Court’s ex parte order today. We look forward to opposing the DOJ’s request in court after Coinbase is served with a subpoena. As we previously stated, we remain concerned with our U.S. customers’ legitimate privacy rights in the face of the government’s sweeping request.”

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