The debate surrounding the regulation of cryptocurrency and its relationship with national governing bodies raged on this week. This time, the pro-bitcoiner corner landed a punch, when Colorado House Representative penned a letter – dated February 5, 2018 – urging the US House Committee on Ethics to put forth statutes that would require members of Congress and government to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings.
Full Asset Transparency
In his letter, Congressman Jared Polis highlighted that, while government employees are required to disclose all traditional investments and asset holdings, requirements regarding cryptocurrency holdings are far less clear-cut. This distinction flies in the face of both the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) who have both identified virtual currencies as legitimate financial instruments.
In an interview with Xconomy, Polis iterated that,“If a member of Congress buys a stock, or gold, or corn futures or anything, there is complete transparency.”
“We have very high standards for elected officials and voters deserve to know what the personal economic interests of their elected officials are [and] I believe [cryptocurrencies] should be disclosed like any other assets, whatever else a member of Congress owns, so that there’s that level of transparency to the public.”
Polis argued that such transparency would ensure that the public would be wise to any conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived, on the part of members of Congress. The Colorado representative’s argument, in light of the growing calls for cryptocurrency regulation both inside and outside the US, as well as the ever increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, may well hit home for many crypto-investors.
The Bitcoin-Friendly Representative
Polis is noted as a prominent “bitcoin-friendly” politician. In 2014, he became one of the first US politicians to accept campaign donations in bitcoin. Since Polis, a number of other politicians are looking into cryptocurrency donations in a new political trend.
Polis highlighted how they had only been able to accept bitcoin contributions of up to $100 due to the Federal Election Commission’s lack of clarity on its policy regarding cryptocurrency donations – a lack of transparency which, he claims, it has still not fully cleared up.
That same year, Polis also responded to calls for the banning of the bitcoin with a satirical letter calling for the prohibition of the US dollar, in which he ridiculed the fear of illegal and unethical transactions that continue to define a significant portion of anti-cryptocurrency arguments.
More recently, in September 2017, Polis, along with fellow Representative David Schweikert, filed a bill advocating a de minimis exemption for cryptocurrency purchases. While current IRS laws, which treat cryptocurrencies as property rather than currency, require that every purchase made with cryptocurrency be reported, regardless of amount, and that capital gains tax be paid if applicable.
Under Polis and Schweikert’s bill, any cryptocurrency purchase under $600 would be exempt from this rule, thus greatly increasing the appeal and efficiency of cryptocurrency as a method of everyday payment.
Polis said of his pro-cryptocurrency status:
“We’re very excited to talk about opportunities to use distributed ledger technology for a lot of data-intensive applications, including health and financial transactions. Certainly, what cryptocurrencies offer is a lower transaction cost method of exchanging value between individuals in a transaction.”