$20,000: IRS to Exempt Casual Bitcoin Buyers From Coinbase Data Request

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking a narrower focus in its investigation of digital currency startup Coinbase, new court documents reveal.

Perhaps most notable, according to the July 6 notice, is the fact that the IRS is only trying to obtain records on users who have conducted “at least the equivalent of $20,000 in any one transaction type (buy, sell, send, or receive) in any one year during the 2013-2015 period”.

This suggests that the tax authority – which began pushing for more information in November – may be looking to prioritize data related to more frequent users of the startup’s services.

News reports last week revealed that the IRS was moving to limit the scope of the summons it wants to serve on Coinbase. According to Fortune, the agency said it wouldn’t seek information related to account security.

The filing from last week goes into greater detail, outlining how the IRS will not seek information on users “who only bought and held bitcoin during the 2013-2015 period”, as well as users for whom the startup filed 1099-K forms in those years.

Additionally, “certain users known to the Internal Revenue Service” will also be excluded, a list of whom – which wasn’t disclosed in the filing” that will be provided to Coinbase at some future date, according to the filing.

Narrower scope aside, the IRS indicated that it could ultimately seek more information on the users in question, writing that it may still “issue summonses in individual examinations of Coinbase users for the information that it no longer seeks in this proceeding”.

The filing is the latest legal twist in the long-running IRS effort to obtain user information from Coinbase. The tax agency’s effort has run into headwinds, with pushback coming from both the startup itself as well as some of its users.

In March, the IRS asked a federal court to compel Coinbase to turn over the records, and last week’s filing resulted from that case. A pair of unnamed Coinbase users filed a motion to intervene in that case in May in an attempt to stop the summons from being executed.

The IRS effort, as might be expected, has sparked a broad outcry from both digital currency advocates as well as users of the tech. The agency’s strategy has also come under scrutiny from both its government watchdog as well as Congress.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

The full court filing can be found below:

Notice by CoinDesk on Scribd

Justice image via Shutterstock

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