Ethereum and Ripple, the platforms backing ether (ETH) and XRP, two of the largest digital currencies, should be viewed as securities, according to Gary Gensler, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Gensler “said that government officials should take a closer look at the largest coins by market capitalization, not just at tokens sold in ICOs. Ethereum’s Ether and Ripple’s XRP could probably be classified as securities,” reports Bloomberg.
At this writing Tuesday, ETH and XRP are the second- and third-largest digital currencies, respectively. Bitcoin is the largest. ETH currently has a market capitalization of $69.68 billion while XRP’s market value is $36.32 billion. Ethereum’s market value is bigger than the fourth- through eighth-largest alt-coins combined.
The Smell Test
Many market observers believe traditional currencies are stores of value and have transactional purposes with critics asserting that digital currencies do not meet those standards and that the crypto space is far more volatile than the traditional currency universe. Gensler has a different opinion.
“One of the ways regulators determine if an asset is a security is with the so-called Howey Test,” according to Bloomberg. “For Gensler, buying Ripple’s XRP and Ether meets the requirements of the test as there’s an investment of money in a common enterprise, and the expectation of profit which comes from the efforts of a third party. The common enterprise for Ripple would be Ripple Labs, and for ether it would be the Ethereum Foundation, Gensler said.”
He said that there is a particularly strong case for Ripple because Ether is already more decentralized. Still, Ripple itself does not believe XRP should be classified as a security ownership in XRP does not give those investors a stake in Ripple, as Bloomberg notes.
One reason Gensler argues for ETH and XRP being classified as securities is because they were introduced via initial coin offerings (ICOs). On that basis, bitcoin, bitcoin cash and litecoin would not be eligible for securities classification.
Classifying digital currencies as securities in the U.S. would likely increase already heavy-handed regulatory scrutiny of the asset class. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has all but blocked ICOs in the U.S. and bars companies and fund managers from using “blockchain” in fund titles and company names.
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“Ledger Secure” Wallet – Chrome Extension Scam [Update]
On January 2nd, 2020 the Bitcoin Enthusiast and Software Developer known as @WizardofAus sent out a Tweet warning people to uninstall and not to use the Chrome Browser Extension called “Ledger Secure”. This Tweet came after a fellow crypto trader of WizardofAus, @hackedzec got 600ZEC stolen from his crypto wallet by the author of the “Ledger Secure” browser extension.
The browser extension has since been reported and officially removed from the Chrome Web Store and the official Ledger Support Twitter account Tweeted a statement verifying that the extension was not legitimate and to uninstall it immediately. It is speculated that the extension developer “effectively phished by interposing between the user and the Ledger” as well as used a keylogger to print the victim’s security keys.
This scam does not affect your official Ledger wallet or devices, you should only be concerned if you installed the “Ledger Secure” browser extension and connected it to your official Ledger account.
If you have installed or used the “Ledger Secure” Chrome extension then contact Ledger Support immediately:
It is important to NEVER trust or use an illegitimate 3rd party company, wallet or storage device to store or trade your cryptocurrency, and only store it on an official wallet or device that has been validated and tested by industry professionals. Also, be sure to check the vendor’s website and confirm that the URL is secure using HTTPS (Green PadLock).
“Always assume that every browser extension is malware and not secure.”
How to Stay Safe:
It is always more secure to use a completely separate computer or device to store and trade your cryptocurrency than you use for your general browsing and internet use. If you have to use the same device then make sure to be extra safe and diligent about not using unique usernames and passwords. The best plan of action is to always assume that every browser extension is malware and not secure. It is also important to never store your cryptocurrency on an open exchange, they have been hacked in the past and are sure to be jeopardized in the future.
Official Ledger Wallet (Safest & Holds the Most Crypto)
Exodus Wallet (Free Software Wallet)
Bitcoin.org (Official Bitcoin Project)
Binance (World Wide Exchange)
IRS Coming For Your Crypto, Specific Crypto Question Added To 2019 Tax Forms
The IRS wants to know whether you traded cryptocurrency in 2019, a question it had never overtly asked taxpayers in the past.
In a new report on Monday covering fiscal 2019, the agency listed cryptocurrency and the gig economy as two key “emerging compliance areas that require attention” by the IRS. For crypto, that attention is taking the form of a new question on the 2019 Form 1040 (for additional income).
The question is at the very top of the form, and reads: “At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”
watch out crypto tax evaders – the IRS is coming for you with a mean new checkbox pic.twitter.com/Fi9qrAy5bv
— 𝘽𝙄𝙇𝙇 𝙎𝙒𝙀𝙀𝙏 (@billsweet) January 3, 2020
The IRS already had official guidance on cryptocurrency, first posted back in 2014: the agency classifies cryptocurrency as property, rather than as currency, and thus taxpayers would treat crypto selling as capital gains (or losses) and disclose it on Form 8949—if you choose.
In the past, the common attitude in crypto land toward disclosing crypto gains on your taxes was that there was little to gain from doing so—you’d risk an audit if you did, and would likely fly under the radar if you didn’t.
Now the IRS is getting more serious.
The phrasing of the question is also creating some confusion, since it mentions not just selling and receiving crypto, but also sending or exchanging it. That prompted some crypto folks on Twitter to wonder whether simply sending bitcoin from one digital wallet to another requires disclosure on your taxes. That answer is no. In an extensive FAQ about virtual currency transactions on its website, the IRS specifies, “If you transfer virtual currency from a wallet, address, or account belonging to you, to another wallet, address, or account that also belongs to you, then the transfer is a non-taxable event.”
The IRS, in its report this week, also disclosed that in 2019 it sent “educational letters” to more than 10,000 taxpayers “who may have failed to properly report virtual currency transactions.” And the IRS cautions: “Virtual currency, also called crypto currency, will remain an important focal point for the IRS in 2020.”
This article originally featured in Yahoo Finance.
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