The United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) released new guidelines on 18 June 2018 which requires Executive Branch employees to report their cryptocurrency holdings. These guidelines are being issued since cryptocurrency activity has experienced a major surge recently, and employees have been questioning ethics officials concerning their obligations to report cryptocurrency use.
The OGE said in its guidelines that holding cryptocurrency may be a conflict of interest for Executive Branch employees who can possibly influence cryptocurrency prices, and cryptocurrency is not protected by any exemptions to the law. Therefore, not only do Executive Branch employees have to report their holdings, they might also get in severe trouble for it if they are in a position of power. These new guidelines could make employees stay far away from cryptocurrency to avoid any trouble.
The OGE does not consider cryptocurrency to be real currency or legal tender, following the stance of other branches of the government. The Internal Revenue Service considers cryptocurrency to be property, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission considers cryptocurrency to be a commodity, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) considers most cryptocurrencies to be securities. Essentially, each government branch has been classifying cryptocurrency so that it falls in their jurisdiction and therefore gives them the right to regulate it, even if their classification is in opposition to other government branches.
According to the OGE, cryptocurrency is an investment which generates income, which is why it must be reported on a public or private financial disclosure. If the cryptocurrency being held is worth less than USD 1,000 and produced less than USD 200 during the reporting period, it doesn’t have to be disclosed.
If a cryptocurrency is a security, which is true for most initial coin offerings (ICOs) under new guidelines from the SEC, then every single transaction involving the token must be reported to the OGE. For cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, transactions don’t have to be reported, just holdings.
The OGE says more regulations will probably be coming from it and other agencies as the situation evolves.
This continues the relatively unfriendly stance the United States government has had towards cryptocurrency since the rise of Bitcoin. Some speculate this could be due to Bitcoin taking away money and power from the centralized federal government.
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