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US Treasury Clarifies “Broker” Definition in Crypto Tax Rules

The US Treasury Department recently shed light on the term “broker” within the crypto sphere, outlining the tax reporting obligations for the industry. This move aims to clarify concerns that have lingered for years regarding decentralized finance platforms and miners’ data collection.

What the Proposed Rule States

On Friday, the Treasury rolled out a detailed 300-page rule. Stemming from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, this decree confirms that centralized crypto exchanges, specific hosted wallet providers, certain decentralized exchanges, and those redeeming their crypto tokens will be subject to these obligations. Additionally, the Treasury introduced the 1099-DA form. It is a tailor-made tax form for crypto brokers, streamlining the once ambiguous tax process.

While miners have been exempted from these tax guidelines, certain decentralized finance platforms are within their ambit. But the major crypto exchanges and brokers aren’t expected to adapt overnight. They’ve been given a generous timeline to adjust to this novel tax-reporting structure, extending their runway further than what was initially foreseen by the 2021 Act’s framers.

Although the proposal has been presented, it’s still a work in progress. Public comments are welcomed until October 30, with public hearings scheduled for November 7 and 8. The crypto industry might challenge the stipulations related to decentralized exchanges, emphasizing the absence of staff or managerial bodies. However, once feedback is obtained from all quarters, we can only expect the regulations to be solidified. That provides the crypto world some respite, as the revised regulations might only be enacted by the 2025 tax year.

Addressing Historical US Treasury Ambiguities

Since cryptocurrencies’ inception, tax implications on gains remained a gray area. The 2021 Act tasked the IRS with devising a mechanism for digital assets firms to report tax-related customer data, paralleling traditional brokerage’s 1099 forms. Introducing these guidelines and the specific “broker” definition aims to provide a clearer path forward.

If adopted, these guidelines would be pertinent to crypto exchanges from the 2025 tax year and brokers from 2026. The Treasury’s overarching goal is to bridge the tax gap, counter the tax evasion threats posed by digital currencies, and promote a uniform playing field. While the initial projection estimated a whopping $28 billion revenue increase over a decade, these figures stemmed from a different crypto landscape, pre-2022 downturn. The Treasury maintains that revenue forecasts are secondary to the rule’s primary objectives.

Key Takeaways for Crypto Players

  • Centralized exchanges, certain wallet providers, and specific decentralized entities come under the “broker” umbrella.
  • The definition encompasses digital asset platforms, payment processors, and those who redeem their own digital tokens.
  • Miners and entities focusing solely on validating transactions on distributed ledgers remain outside this rule’s scope.
  • Privacy concerns regarding personal data sharing have been acknowledged, with the Treasury seeking alternative approaches and insights into potential technical barriers.

As the crypto industry evolves, so does its regulatory landscape. This proposed rule by the US Treasury offers much-needed clarity, marking a significant stride in formalizing crypto’s position within the traditional financial framework.