While a new category of digital assets has become mainstream in Europe, regulatory concerns in the U.S. have largely kept American sports enthusiasts out of the market for now. These new digital assets are referred to as “fan tokens”, a blockchain-based technology that allows teams to enhance their fan engagement.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, Senator Pat Toomey of Virginia released a discussion draft of the Stablecoin Transparency of Reserves and Uniform Safe Transactions Act of 2022, also known as the Stablecoin TRUST Act (“the TRUST Act”). This new legislation, introduced in the United States Senate, aims to create a three-pronged regulatory framework for the issuers of stablecoins in the United States. Like similar bills on the topic of stablecoin, such as the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022, the bill is short at only fourteen pages long. Where the bills differ is immediately noted in the more robust definitions section of the TRUST Act which lays out a six-part definition of “payment stablecoins” that covers the design intent of a stablecoin, who can issue a stablecoin, whether the holder can inherently earn interest, and where the stablecoin transactions are recorded.
The popularity of NFTs has been rapidly increasing over the past year, but regulations and guidance relating to the tax consequences of buying and selling NFTs has been slow to keep up. Despite also living on the blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrencies are not created equally in the eyes of the IRS. The IRS has addressed the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies and published guidance for crypto-investors but has not yet published any specific guidance for NFTs. This leaves many investors in a position of uncertainty regarding the tax consequences of their investments.
On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, Congressman Josh Gottheimer released a draft of the Stablecoin Innovation and Protection Act of 2022 (“the bill”). This legislation attempts to both define stablecoins as well as provide a legal framework in which the issuers and users of stablecoins can safely and legally operate. The bill is surprisingly brief, only nine pages long, but Gottheimer claims that it will provide greater direction and certainty to the marketplace in order to boost innovation while also protecting consumers.
Cryptocurrency has an air of mystery about it. It seemingly burst onto the scene a decade ago, and while some of the stories about it may seem outlandish, many of them are true. The first known Bitcoin purchase was for two pizzas and prices can fluctuate wildly based off of tweets. With the origins of such a thing being the subject of internet humor and its value being so volatile, what level of attention and care is due to it?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are emerging digital assets with numerous rights and obligations. However, regulations and laws in the United States are only barely beginning to catch up, and NFTs consume nearly as much energy as a small country. Without NFT regulation, climate change catastrophes are likely to be evident sooner than expected.
The Build Back Better Act, which passed through the House of Representatives in November 2021, has been stalled in the Senate for several months. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has insisted that Democrats will work until the bill is passed. Within the Build Back Better Act, cryptocurrencies are shifted from being treated like property to being treated more like traditional securities, subjecting all digital currencies to wash rules under Section 1091. With cryptocurrencies collectively evaluated at upwards of $3 Trillion in 2021, crypto investors under the Build Back Better Act would be subject to the regulatory anti-abuse rules that currently apply to both stocks and bonds. This move by Democrats is for taxing purposes, but ultimately will call into question the IRS’ ability to regulate certain crypto transactions and asset disclosures. Additionally, questions have been raised as to the future regulation of cryptocurrencies and what that will mean for one of the most volatile trading markets.
In October 2021, the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase released a proposal for a regulatory framework that would designate a single regulator for the digital asset markets. This proposal comes less than a month after Coinbase’s CEO had a public meltdown on Twitter after the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) sent the firm a Wells Notice, a warning of potential litigation, about their planned cryptocurrency lending platform allegedly violating securities regulations. As the digital asset market grows and the financial institutions involved become more influential, regulators continue to struggle with jurisdictional and definitional questions around the new products.
Cryptocurrency is a relatively new form of currency that has risen in popularity worldwide. Since the pandemic struck, many small businesses have begun to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for their goods and services. There is much debate regarding taxation and auditing of cryptocurrency transactions in small businesses, along with weighing the cost and benefit of providing this alternative payment method.
Despite last-ditch efforts by lobbyists for the crypto community, controversial new cryptocurrency tax requirements buried in the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the US Senate in early August will likely remain unaltered by the House which has committed to vote on the $1 trillion dollar bill by September 27, 2021. The new reporting rules are sending ripples of concern through the cryptocurrency industry and even have some national-security officials worried that their breadth and overreach will only succeed in pushing illicit activities and actors further underground. Overly aggressive regulations risk forcing illegal activity “deeper into anonymizing methods and corners of the internet that would make it more difficult for law enforcement,” according to Jeremy Sheridan, assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service’s investigations office. Moreover, overregulation could also have a chilling effect on domestic innovation and result in the U.S. falling behind other countries that adopt laws and regulations that are more favorable to new technologies. “The U.S. has to make a decision if it wants to be a center of. . . transformational technology that can bring more people into the financial ecosystem. . . [or] get left behind,” said Sigal Mandelker, a former undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department. Mandelker is now with a private venture capital firm which invests in the crypto markets.