from the bitcoins-are-like-cash dept.
U.S. Congress wants to pass a bill that would put serious fines ($10K for bitcoins as opposed to $5K for cash, IIRC) and jail time (ten years, as opposed to five IIRC) if you cross the border without reporting your bitcoins (in addition to confiscating your bitcoins of course).
A group of US lawmakers wants to see cryptocurrency holdings declared at the nation's border – and advocates of the tech are pushing back.
Introduced last month, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 – which is actually the third iteration of a bill that debuted in 2011 – would bring a range of digital currency services under federal scrutiny, including those that provide transaction mixing services.
Yet, the provision that has attracted the particular ire of cryptocurrency advocates – especially those who prefer a regulation-light environment – is one that would make such holdings subject to disclosure requirements at US customs checkpoints. This means if a person trying to enter the country has more than $10,000 worth of bitcoin in their possession, under the proposed legal change, they would need to inform the relevant authorities.
Such requirements are already in place for payment methods like cash. But given the rising public profile of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, coupled with the perception among policymakers that they could be used to fund terrorist activities, is driving legislative efforts like the bill currently under consideration.
[...] Thus far, the bill hasn't advanced significantly since being introduced last month, public records show. On 25th May, the measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
At press time, representatives for Senators Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein hadn't responded to CoinDesk requests for comment. The bill is also being sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse, constituting a group of two Republicans and two Democrats.
In May, the bill S.1241 (archive) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa. The bill, if enacted, would call upon the Department of Homeland Security to develop
a strategy to interdict and detect prepaid access devices, digital currencies, or other similar instruments, at border crossings and other ports of entry for the United States
According to a story at btcmanager.com (square brackets in original),
the bill would "criminalize [those] intentionally concealing ownership or control of a [digital currency or digital exchange] account.
The Senate held a meeting about the bill on November 28. Witnesses included Charles Davidson of the Kleptocracy Initiative of the Hudson Institute conservative think tank; Douglas Farah of IBI Consultants, which specializes in "issues of national security, transnational crime, terrorism, terror finance and non-state armed actors"; and Kathryn Haun Rodriguez of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. Ms. Haun, however, made no mention of cryptocurrency in her testimony (PDF).