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posted by janrinok on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the tax-man-cometh dept.

The Verge reports

[On November 29], Coinbase suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Internal Revenue Service, nearly a year after the case was initially filed. A California federal court has ordered Coinbase to turn over identifying records for all users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year between 2013 and 2015. Coinbase estimates that 14,355 users meet the government's requirements.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Coinbase Acquires Earn.com 4 comments

Bitcoin exchange Coinbase buys Earn.com for a reported $100M and adds key executive

Digital currency exchange Coinbase is building on a recent hiring streak with a deal to buy Earn.com announced Monday. As part of the acquisition, the crypto company will bring on Earn's founder and CEO as its first-ever chief technology officer.

Before running Earn, which lets users send and receive digital currency for replying to emails and completing tasks, Srinivasan was a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Srinivasan will act as "technological evangelist" for both the industry, and for Coinbase in his new role, the company said.

"Balaji has become one of the most respected technologists in the crypto field and is considered one of the technology industry's few true originalists," Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in a blog post Monday.

Coinbase did not disclose the terms of the deal but according to Recode, the offer was more than $100 million.

Earn.com sounds like a Mechanical Turk website that pays out virtual blockchain money to bubble boosters. From the website: "Get paid to learn about new crypto projects. Crypto startups use Earn.com to build their communities, get feedback on whitepapers, and airdrop tokens to qualified recipients."

Also at TechCrunch and Reuters.

Related: Coinbase Escalates Showdown on U.S. Tax Probe as Bitcoin Surges
Coinbase Ordered to Report 14,355 Users to the IRS
Coinbase is NOT Erratically Overcharging Some Users and Emptying Their Bank Accounts [Updated]


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  • (Score: 2) by ledow on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:26AM (7 children)

    by ledow (5567) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:26AM (#605569) Homepage

    " estimates that 14,355 users "

    That's not an estimate.

    That's a number. A very specific number. At best, to the nearest five, which is about as accurate you can get.

    An estimate would be: 14,000 users.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:46AM (#605574)

      English is a giant clustersnarl of a language. Just one additional possible reading of TFS is:

      Coinbase estimates that 14,355 users have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year between 2013 and 2015.

      There's the potential for quite a bit of estimation there in not just numbers of users, but also in dollar trade amount as well as relevant time period.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:18AM (#605577)

      I find your choice of 14,000 users very specific.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:46AM (#605581)

      It means "My witch hunt will be over when I say it's over."

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by zocalo on Tuesday December 05 2017, @12:53PM (1 child)

      by zocalo (302) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @12:53PM (#605598)
      Actually, an estimate would typically include a range of values or some other margin of error resulting from whatever methodology was used to derive it, without which 14,000 is no more or less of an estimate than 14,355 is - whether or not it's a round number has nothing to do with it. For all we know Coinbase may have only done a partial analysis of their data, identified a given number of users meeting the requirements for a given timeframe/level of funds/proportion of users, then multiplied out to get the 14,355 figure, which would indeed make it an estimate.
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
      • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:26PM

        by isostatic (365) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:26PM (#605607) Journal

        "About 14,000" would imply to me anywhere from 13,500 to 14,499, probably distributed over a bell curve, but with a peak around the 14k mark
        "About 14,000 to 15,000" would imply around the 14500 mark, give or take 500.
        "About 13,500 to 14,500" would imply around the 14,000 mark, give or take 500, but with a flatter curve in the middle than "About 14,000"

    • (Score: 2) by nobu_the_bard on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:19PM

      by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:19PM (#605628)

      It might be an "estimate" because of some fiddly details about what does and does not count. Calling it an estimate covers them if it turns out to be inaccurate.

      For example, if a user had 4 accounts that each did $10k worth of transactions, but it's not immediately obvious it was all one person, the IRS may have intended this person be counted (perhaps because of a different definition of "user") but Coinbase understandably didn't count them. If the IRS comes back later and wants to know why they were skipped over, Coinbase can say their previous number was an estimate and it was always possible a few corner cases slipped through.

    • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:51PM

      by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:51PM (#605641) Journal

      Sure it can be. If it's 14,355 +/- 5, it's pretty exact.

      If it's 14,355 +/- 10,000, it's a very vague estimate. Without a stated margin of error, we can't know which is implied.

      "Round numbers" based on base 10 are completely arbitrary and should not be seen as a necessary center for a statistical distribution. I know there's a concept of "significant figures" which is sort of what you're getting at, but without error bars, we can't know what's implied about precision here.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:34AM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @11:34AM (#605578)

    Maybe if society were organized more transparently, we wouldn't have to fund a massive bureaucracy to go around beating money out of people.

    Just a thought.

    Government is like that indigent who runs up to your car with a pale fully dirty water, and begins "washing" your windshield with some tattered, besmirched cloth; the only difference is that when you refuse to pay him for his "service", he just pulls a gun out and tells you he's an agent of the IRS.

    • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:13PM (1 child)

      by JNCF (4317) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:13PM (#605600) Journal

      He then demands to be paid not only for washing your windshield, but also for preemptively beating the street urchin two blocks away to death: that street urchin may have attacked your car at some indeterminate point in the future, you ungrateful freeloader!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @07:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @07:39PM (#605775)

        It doesn't matter how clean my windshield is, so long as I can see through it. People good at washing windows should be washing the sky scraper, not my windshield. There is a reason why government services are staffed with imbeciles, we have better use for more useful people than to provide third-tier essential services. It is precisely free market that helps us make better use of people in the sectors that do provide net financial benefit. Believe me I rather make $ I make doing software dev than to provide an excellent service to you at DMV.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bradley13 on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:18PM (1 child)

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:18PM (#605602) Homepage Journal

      "Maybe if society were organized more transparently, we wouldn't have to fund a massive bureaucracy to go around beating money out of people."

      This. The sheer amount of useless effort caused by income taxes should make it clear: this is the wrong way for a government to collect money. You have the whole tax-collection apparatus. You have the tax accountants who prepare the documents. You have the hours wasted by the individuals, reporting by employers and banks and on and on... If collecting taxes causes this much wasted effort, maybe it's the fault of the tax system.

      What would happen if you replaced the whole mess with something - almost anything - else? A national sales tax (VAT, for us Europeans), for example? Of course, if VAT is too high, you will also get compliance problems. Thinking of Germany - when I worked there, more than half of my paycheck disappeared to taxes *and* they have close to 20% VAT. When "tax day" is sometime in August...maybe government spending is too high?

      Here, in Switzerland, we don't have any sort of withholding. You file your tax return, you get a bill for the government. If you earn, say, $100,000, you might get a bill for $20,000 or so. Some people want to introduce withholding, because these bills are so shocking, and lots of people fail to plan for them. But you know: I think it's great! Having your tax bill hit like a bomb makes you realize how much money the government takes from each and every person. This, in turn, encourages people to vote against unnecessary government spending.

      If taxes were lower, they wouldn't be worth avoiding. You wouldn't need the accountants and tax consultants and the whole tax bureaucracy. The root of the problem is excessive government spending.

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:02PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:02PM (#606171) Journal

        This. The sheer amount of useless effort caused by income taxes should make it clear: this is the wrong way for a government to collect money. You have the whole tax-collection apparatus. You have the tax accountants who prepare the documents. You have the hours wasted by the individuals, reporting by employers and banks and on and on... If collecting taxes causes this much wasted effort, maybe it's the fault of the tax system.

        One man's wasted effort is another man's paycheck. And profit margins. And a lobbying fund to keep it that way...

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by isostatic on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:23PM (11 children)

      by isostatic (365) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @01:23PM (#605605) Journal

      Why do we tax? To fund things in society that can't be better funded through free markets. Defense, the Justice system, Law and Order. Without these services society collapses into chaos or get taken over by hostile actors. Even libertarians agree with the need for some government.

      Therefore the just way to raise money is to tax the following
      * Land Value -- can't be avoided. If your land is worth $xxx, then you get taxed say 2%, or 10%, or 40% of that value every year (whatever is needed to fund the services that the population agrees is required). Note that this is the value of the unimproved land - build a house on your land and the value of the land doesn't change. The moral reason to tax this is that if you didn't pay, society doesn't exist (another country invades for example, or you descend into civil war), and your land is as valuable as an acre in Homs. But land is very valuable if society does exist. Some land is worth less, so gets taxes less - an acre of wilderness pays less tax than an acre in Manhattan. If you buy an off the grid piece of land in the middle of nowhere, this tax will be tiny, as the benefit from government you get is tiny. If you own acres of land in downtown San Francisco you'd pay far more. Don't pay the tax, you no longer own the land.

      * "Intelectual property". This only has value because society agrees not to copy it. If you want society to stop other people ripping you off, you need to pay for that society. I'd prefer to see an exponential cost model where it costs something like $10 for the first 10 years of fees, but if you've had the property for 40 years you'd have to pay $5m/yr or whatever to keep it. This is a compromise against restricting freedom of other people in return for getting the benefit of creativity. Trade mark protection would be free though - as forgeries are not a good thing for anyone. Don't pay the tax, that's fine, but you don't get protection.

      * Externality tax. This ensures that any externalities are paid for by the producer. Dump plastics into the ocean, you have to pay for the cleanup. Dump methane into the atmosphere, you have to pay for the effect on others from increased temperature. Obviously you pass these costs on to your customers.

      Other taxes - income, capital gains, sales taxes, etc, are immoral taxes, they tax - and thus discourage - productivity.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:11PM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @02:11PM (#605624)

        Had it been left to the Free Market, insurance companies would have gotten so tired of payouts that they'd motivate homeowners to build houses with sprinkler systems (or who knows what other innovation), rather than relying on jacked former high-school football stars driving around in a hilariously big red truck.

        In short, I dispute your claim that the free markets couldn't do a better job.

        You're basically begging the question; that is, you're assuming that which you wish to prove. You can't just let an organization (the one that calls itself "government") to impose a way of doing things then say "See! If there were another way to do it, then government wouldn't be doing it!"

        Law and Order is a service.

        Most of the law that governs your life is different from the law that governs my life; that's because we live under different contractual obligations—you have to make monthly payments for your car, while I don't.

        The Authoritarians think in terms of "law by legislation", whereas the Libertarians think in terms of "law by contracts"; the enforcement of contracts is a service like any other, and would only benefit from competition within a market (indeed, that's why it's a good thing there isn't One World Government; competition among law-and-order service providers, even among coercive ones called "governments", is what keeps Tyranny in check).

        As technology improves, it will be increasingly possible to order society through almost solely "law by contracts", and this shift will not only improve the sense of personal liberty, but will also allow society's form to be found more effectively through evolution by variation (supplier competition) and selection (consumer choice).

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:19PM (1 child)

          by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:19PM (#605660)

          Had it been left to the Free Market, insurance companies would have gotten so tired of payouts that they'd motivate homeowners to build houses with sprinkler systems (or who knows what other innovation), rather than relying on jacked former high-school football stars driving around in a hilariously big red truck.

          In short, I dispute your claim that the free markets couldn't do a better job.

          No, if insurance companies wanted to motivate homeowners to build houses with sprinkler systems (or who knows what other innovation), they are currently free to do so. Especially in the form of offering discounts. Witness a company like Progressive willing to cut you a discount on car insurance if you install their car monitor and it reveals your driving habits are in a lower risk pool. So why aren't they already doing so? Oh, because they can't offer a deep enough discount to make that worthwhile universally.

          The free market will do a better job if, and only if, there's profit to be made in it. You save over government if, and only if, the government is so inefficient that a company can do it better if there's still profit in it after streamlining. And if people are unwilling to elect a government which is going to require that streamlining as part of government service. (i.e. reform Civil Service protections and government operational methodology to be cheaper with more service than what a profit motive will allow for.)

          You're basically begging the question; that is, you're assuming that which you wish to prove. You can't just let an organization (the one that calls itself "government") to impose a way of doing things then say "See! If there were another way to do it, then government wouldn't be doing it!"

          You're basically introducing facts and assumptions not in evidence, that for any given application the free market will find some way to make it "better", without laying out a comparative ethical framework for what "better" means to society and to business. There's overlap but not complete congruency.

          Law and Order is a service.

          Most of the law that governs your life is different from the law that governs my life; that's because we live under different contractual obligations—you have to make monthly payments for your car, while I don't.

          Because you choose to not own a car. Many don't, but the majority of Americans require one. Require, not an option. Therefore the majority may compel you to participate in the system. You might not like it, but we feel we have the right. Sorry.

          The Authoritarians think in terms of "law by legislation", whereas the Libertarians think in terms of "law by contracts"; the enforcement of contracts is a service like any other, and would only benefit from competition within a market (indeed, that's why it's a good thing there isn't One World Government; competition among law-and-order service providers, even among coercive ones called "governments", is what keeps Tyranny in check).

          As technology improves, it will be increasingly possible to order society through almost solely "law by contracts", and this shift will not only improve the sense of personal liberty, but will also allow society's form to be found more effectively through evolution by variation (supplier competition) and selection (consumer choice).

          Which is fine if you assume all persons are rational actors and equally capable of making informed decisions. And that all persons share enough of a vision of society to take their share of society's challenges and receive their share of society's rewards. They're not. Not on either side of that equation. So some people must be compelled by force - don't do X or your liberty is curtailed by force or you will pay a fine by force.

          (And you also assume that no actor will come out pre-eminently in a way that all competition is dwarfed and then unable to form a truly viable competitive environment. Google (YouTube), and Microsoft would beg to disagree. You would get market dominance by a player who would then only supply just enough to stay ahead of everyone else and take the profits and run with them. But I digress.)

          The libertarian mind might think it fine that police and fire services, for example, should be supplied to only those who can pay for them. Such systems exist (witness Rural/Metro fire.) And I remember back in the 80s people calling for fire, assuming it was a municipal service, and the fire shows up and lets the house burn because they're not a subscriber. Back in the 50's, when no fire services existed in Maricopa County, it was a novel approach. But to have it continuing 70 years later.... no, it's stupid.

          Now we take that one remove further.... Fire breaks out next door. My house burns because of it. The other owner doesn't have the resources to make me whole. Wouldn't it have been nicer to have a fire department respond and save my house from my neighbor's negligence? And if that protection is extended to all people that is equality. And I have every right to expect you to pay for a part of that. Thus we are where we are.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:50PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:50PM (#605676)

            When you're forced to buy hamburgers, you're going to eat a lot more hamburgers than you might otherwise.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:45PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:45PM (#605698)

          The comment you replied to specified:

          Defense, the Justice system, Law and Order.

          I can't see how fire brigades fit in that.

          Law and Order is a service.

          No, it isn't.

          Note that contracts are not the law. But the law is what makes (legal) contracts universally enforceable. Without a government-supported law, contracts would be pointless: The stronger one doesn't need them because he can enforce his interests anyway, while the weaker one isn't helped by a contract that he cannot enforce. It is exactly the government with its institutions which make enforceable contracts possible.

          Also, there are situations where you need protection without a contract. If someone puts a gun at your head and demand your money, you can well ask him for a contract that says he may not point a gun at your head and demand your money, but I strongly doubt he would agree to such a contract. Well, he may offer you a contract that says he'll not kill you as long as you pay …

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:59PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:59PM (#605705)

            Either government is an organization that is staffed by Men, or government is magical.

            You can't have it both ways; your logic is circular.

          • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:37PM

            by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:37PM (#605830)

            The comment you replied to specified:

            Defense, the Justice system, Law and Order.

            I can't see how fire brigades fit in that.

            Order. The creation and regulation of fire services is upheld in law, usually. Not dissimilar to the licensing of physicians.
            The regulation of how they are paid for - taxes - is upheld in order.
            Further, it is a system. While you can isolate a single element, certainly we do this all the time, nevertheless jaw and justice and EMS and Fire and park service and gobs of other things are in government. You seemed to be proposing that law will go away and contracts will take over. But I am saying that will not occur. Because Fire, for starters.
            I know one variation of the Libertarian dream is that everyone is free to act without law encumbering them or having intrusive government around. I also believe that to be a lovely dream. But also a fantasy.

            But I'll do it on your terms: How do you propose police should work?

            Law and Order is a service.

            No, it isn't.

            Note that contracts are not the law. But the law is what makes (legal) contracts universally enforceable. Without a government-supported law, contracts would be pointless: The stronger one doesn't need them because he can enforce his interests anyway, while the weaker one isn't helped by a contract that he cannot enforce. It is exactly the government with its institutions which make enforceable contracts possible.

            Also, there are situations where you need protection without a contract. If someone puts a gun at your head and demand your money, you can well ask him for a contract that says he may not point a gun at your head and demand your money, but I strongly doubt he would agree to such a contract. Well, he may offer you a contract that says he'll not kill you as long as you pay …

            I'm really not sure what you're getting at here. I didn't say Law and Order is a service, I quoted someone else. I am maintaining that governmental functions and the ability of government to regulate behavior are indeed established by force. Ultimately it doesn't matter if someone wants to participate or not (I'm thinking immediately of people like tax protesters. Protest all you want, the majority of your citizen "neighbors" will support the ability of government to make you pay taxes or be jailed.)

        • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by isostatic on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:11AM

          by isostatic (365) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:11AM (#605907) Journal

          In short, I dispute your claim that the free markets couldn't do a better job.

          Your alzheimers riddled mind seems to be responding to someone else Ms Rand.

          I suggested that there were some essential government services -- courts for example, or national defence. I also suggested that those that benefit the most should pay the most. You started rabbiting on about the fire brigade, and how contracts are magically enforced even if nobody pays for the enforcement of those contracts. Either that or you were suggesting the person with the biggest gun gets to decide all the laws - in which case that would be Putin.

          But by all means keep yabbering on about the fire service, and see how your land plumets in value as your city burns.

      • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Tuesday December 05 2017, @08:11PM (3 children)

        by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @08:11PM (#605794)

        Externality tax:
        It is included in there by broad definition but significant enough to explicitly mention. resource extraction taxes: stumpage fees, mineral/petroleum extraction, hunting tags etc. That is, taking from the commons should be user pay.

        As with all policies, you have to worry about unintended consequences. E.g. green space in/ near city centers - overall land value is higher with some green space, but taken by itself that green space is more valuable as more building.

        • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:18PM (2 children)

          by isostatic (365) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:18PM (#605822) Journal

          That green space increases the value of other space surrounding it - why else would companies pay for green/open space in their blocks of land?

          • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Thursday December 07 2017, @11:20PM (1 child)

            by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Thursday December 07 2017, @11:20PM (#607036)

            I did say that.
            My scenario was of a developer holding a chunk of green space and only that chunk of green space.

            We both agree that the chunk of green space increases value of land surrounding it. But the developer can take that chunk of green space and develop it into a building and increase their net value at the cost of everybody else. My point is that a developer should not be able to just acquire some green space then turn around and turn it into non-green space.

            • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Friday December 08 2017, @07:42PM

              by isostatic (365) on Friday December 08 2017, @07:42PM (#607365) Journal

              In the UK we have planning laws. In the US I believe it's zoning laws. If they aren't allowed to build on it, then clearly the land isn't value nor, thus tax is low.

              If they are allowed to build on it, then they should.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:16PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @03:16PM (#605657)

    enjoy your reign of terror while it lasts, you stupid pigs. we're going to heat our homes with oil from your fat.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:20PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:20PM (#605687)

      Edgy and lord like. +3 fedora tips

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @07:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @07:33PM (#605772)

        Just another Anti-Fa Bern-out. He may go violent though, as they have been known to lose their shit. Best stay armed my friend.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @09:24PM (#605824)

    So let me get this straight...

    They can buttfuck Coinbase and all its users with a splintered baseball bat and no lube ...

    But they can't rein in Paypal because of lots and lots of reasons. So many reasons. After all, it's not like it's one of the most exploitative excuses for a protection racket in town.

    Glad to see you have your priorities straight there, bureaucrats.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:38AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:38AM (#606054)

    Just few weeks ago I've received an email from PayPal (and probably not a scam one) that said they they were soon to report all "Business" PayPal accounts to Canadian Revenue Agency (IRS equivalent).

    So what is the big deal? Comply with the laws. Report your transactions as required or not required by law.

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