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Bob The Magic Custodian



Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses.
Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes.

First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure:

Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:

But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are!

"On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid".
"Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since."

"As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!"
"Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?"

"Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party."
"Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!"

"What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven."
"Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!"

"We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies.
And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often".

How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen?
Just one.

Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so?
If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security.

The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle.

And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet?

Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds.
So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever.

Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see.
It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation.
A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.

History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance.
Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.)
Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive.

Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today.
Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well.
Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do.

Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):



Thoughts?
submitted by azoundria2 to QuadrigaInitiative [link] [comments]

How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation


In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.



Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:

Offline Multi-Signature

Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.

Regular Transparent Audits

Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.

Insurance Requirements

Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.


Background and Justifications


Cold Storage Custody/Management
After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems:
• Funds stored online or in a smart contract,
• Access controlled by one person or one system,
• 51% attacks (rare),
• Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or
• Some combination of the above.
For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program.
The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms.
• 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective.
• The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated.
The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II.

On The Subject of Third Party Custodians
Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems.
However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies.
There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both.

On The Subject Of Insurance
ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC.
However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline[] to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance.
In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework.
A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians.

On The Subject of Fractional Reserve
There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds.
There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past.

Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability
Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis.
The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users.
Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit.
The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided.
Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense.

Hot Wallet Management
The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets.
However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process.
A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage.
Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.

Current Draft Proposal

(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage.
(a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet.
(b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time).
(c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.
(d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds.
(e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers.
(2) Regular and transparent solvency audits.
(a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row.
(b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored.
(c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process.
(d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify.
(e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible.
(3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions.
(a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets.
(b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy.
(c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage.
(d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange.
(e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.

Steps Forward

Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized.
The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges.
The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
submitted by azoundria2 to QuadrigaInitiative [link] [comments]

BitcoinTaxes Podcast: Crypto Audits w/ Alex Kugelman

BitcoinTaxes Podcast Link
TLDR; Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawer, discusses crypto audits and how to avoid them.
Highlights:
IRS audits are a real possibility for anyone who has traded cryptocurrencies. Our guest today is Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawyer with an abundance of knowledge concerning cryptocurrency audits. He's here to share his expertise on IRS cryptocurrency audits, including risk reduction strategies as well as enforcement predictions and misconceptions.
Alex Kugelman specializes in IRS audits. His experience includes four years of Federal government court experience at the U.S. Tax Court and a U.S. District Court. [00:40]
Alex: I'm an attorney out in California. I clerked for a US District Court judge and as well as the United States Tax Court. I've been in private practice exclusively doing tax controversy work for the past five years or so. I kind of got involved with crypto towards the end of 2016. I tended to represent clients mainly with compliance & disclosure issues with respect to cryptocurrency. I just really like it. Really interesting area.
The Coinbase summons in 2018 played a major role in Alex's interest in crypto audits. [01:19]
Alex: What started me into the crypto space was when the IRS first issued summons for Coinbase. We started getting some interesting calls regarding that. And at that time I thought to myself, this might be an interesting area. So I started following the actual summons enforcement proceeding at the District Court here in San Francisco - from there kind of worked with people under different types of compliance, including international disclosures. Now we're starting to see some of the first cryptocurrency audits come through.
First, let's get a brief rundown of how IRS audits work. [02:00]
Alex: It is important to understand the IRS as an administrative agency and all different layers of it. So when it comes to an audit the term that the IRS uses is an examination and there's three basic levels.
The first is a correspondence exam. That's where you get a letter that says, dear taxpayer, so-and-so reported that you had $100 of interest income that wasn't on your tax return - we're going to increase your tax. If you want to challenge that, you can. And that's basically termed an under reporter notice. That's probably not going to be a cryptocurrency audit if you get that notice.
The next one is an office exam. That is someone in the local IRS office sending you a letter that says, we have selected a certain tax return for audit and we're going to look at these issues. We'd like you to call us to schedule an appointment. That's going to be usually a tax compliance officer that is doing that.
The third and probably the most serious level of exam is a field examination. That's also going to be a local IRS representative, typically a revenue agent. There, the revenue agent may come to your work or ask come to your work or business to kind of conduct the audit.
All three of those are going to start the same: a letter that's sent to you at your most recent address provided to the IRS.
Cryptocurrency audits follow a similar protocol. [05:40]
Alex: I think it's likely that most crypto audits are going to start with one of two things happening. One is that there is information from the Coinbase summons that is inconsistent with what was on a taxpayer's tax return. I think for someone who's involved with that issue, they're going to have a good sense of that one because they should've gotten an email notice from Coinbase.
Or two, the audit notice is going to identify older tax years - 2013, 2014 or 2015 because those are the years that the information related to.
Another reason I think people will get audited is going to be because information on the return is incomplete, in the sense that the taxpayer or the cryptocurrency owner reports some transactions, without enough detail to figure out the actual cost basis.
Does reporting your data in an aggregated fashion increase your chances of being audited? [06:45]
Alex: I mean one - to the extent that there's going to be a lot of taxpayers - a lot of people use TurboTax, right? If that's the way TurboTax is preparing all of those returns, it would seem to me you're kind of in a herd of people like that. And at least it's consistent with what a lot of people are doing. The second part of that is going to be at least those people who have prepare the returns in that manner, they're going to, or should have, the underlying data. So even if it's an aggregate reporting of each asset class as opposed to each individual trade, if there ever were questions then you're going to have your CSV files, you're going to have your Bitcoin.tax exports, you're going to have all the information that you need to back that up.
Alex is an advocate of over-reporting your information to the IRS. [09:30]
Alex: I'm a big proponent of over-reporting - and I don't mean paying too much tax. I just mean including too much information. Because at some point there's kind of two ways that your returned can be flagged: a computer flags the return for some reason or there's a special unit or a person who actually flags it. At the end of the day, a human being will be looking at that return and deciding whether it actually is going to go all the way through to an audit. I want them to completely understand what's being reported, why it's been reported, and if there's too much information, that's fine - it's less likely that someone's going to have more questions.
A crypto audit is very likely to be a field exam - and it's important to hire a good rep. [11:00]
Alex: It's very likely going to be a field exam, which means you're going to have a revenue agent - and those are kind of the best of the best auditors for an IRS audit. And remember - an IRS audit is a civil matter. It is not criminal at this point. Again, it's unlikely that it will become criminal. It is, however, the highest level of audit you're going to get.
If you're going to hire a representative, which you have every right to do, you should contact that person, let them know what's going on and probably have them interface with the auditor. You should receive, as part of the opening notice or letter, the information document request - which is identifying what things to bring for the auditor. Also, it'll tip to what topics might be important. For example the typical things you're going to see will be bank statements, financial or asset account statements, which I view as requesting exchange statements or exchange CSV files. Any documents that show the cost basis for your cryptocurrency trades.
Audits are more art than science. [13:35]
Alex: The auditor has a fair amount of power. So if you play real hardball - that's not going to prevent the auditor from expanding to other years. So when you get that audit notice ,and let's say that you're going to deal with this yourself, the first thing you want to kind of figure out is what are the areas that I wouldn't want to go into, and what are the areas that I don't have good records? That will help guide the way to respond or what information to pull together.
The reality is, and let's just be honest here - for most people reporting cryptocurrency gains, they have all of the information. The IRS does not have much. They might have some records from Coinbase, but it's not as if they have a treasure trove of third party data.
The burden is really going to be, in every audit, on the taxpayer to prove their tax return is correct.
It's difficult to say how lenient the IRS will be regarding past years. [15:35]
Alex: I think the way that I would look at it is that maybe the standard of of records required to really substantiate older years might be a little bit lower for older years as opposed to now because it's different now. There's a lot better information provided by some of the exchanges. There's a lot more software out there to help you, especially for people who are newer to crypto. You should have access to all your bank records. You should still have a lot of emails, reflecting on-ramping off-ramping, or other purchases. You should be able to kind of pull this all together.
I can understand when we have clients who come in and are early adopters and they're missing chunks of information. So I do think that in those types of circumstances, yes, I think there would be a little bit of leniency. But I don't think if you're asking, hey, I reported my gains in 2017 but I never really did it 14, 15 or 16 - I don't think that's going to be viewed very favorably.
It is possible to substantiate your data without all of your records. [19:00]
Alex: I think the first thing is, I mean, outside of cryptocurrency and just generally in audits, how many people have complete records to support everything on their tax return from three years ago? Right? It's just not the reality.
The best source of information in a lot of these cryptocurrency clients are the clients themselves. They kind of know what they did and they can remember. There's some who take good notes and other people don't, but as you go through and ask people: what exchanges have you've been on, what type of coins, if you bought any ICOs, have you ever sold for actual US cash, and have you ever bought goods or services? As you talk through things people tend to recall what happened. We use that information and we cross check that against bank statements, as well as CSV files, to pick out what those transactions look like.
Most people have some sort of records, at least reflecting the transfer in and the transfer back out of that exchange. So you can use historical data and historical pricing information to essentially estimate what that transaction would have been. And then what we do is we provide a written statement summary of what we're doing and why we're doing it.
The other big one that we see all the time - and anybody listening to this, please hear this, do not trade for your friends on your exchange accounts - because that type of commingling causes such major problems. Essentially you are walking into those taxable gains just because you're allowing someone access to the exchange to make sales.
If you need representation for an audit, get representation. [23:00]
Alex: My general rule is that I think experienced representatives are really important. I probably would not hire the CPA that prepared my return unless they were: one, experienced with being a representative in audits. And two, you felt comfortable that they weren't going to go in there with a conflict of interest. But I do think if you're worried about going into audit - hiring a skilled, and experienced rep is really, really important.
If they're experienced with this, they should understand the appropriate ethical standards and go in there and essentially help resolve portions of the audit and move it to a resolution that you can deal with.
Taxpayers actually have a lot of leverage in an audit. And that sounds crazy to say, but there is a lot of truth to that. And so as you're kind of working through the audit itself, you want to make sure that you're not just agreeing to something to be done with it. You're not agreeing to something just because you think that you'll get in more trouble or get a worse result otherwise.
There are important risk-reduction strategies you can utilize to avoid a crypto audit. [28:15]
Alex: The first thing that you really want to do, is just assess; for those of you that are really worried about an audit - just assess what it is you've actually done over the years. When did you start trading, what exchanges were you on, do you have records that reflect on-ramping and off-ramping? And that's going to be your bank account statements. Do you know where you've been, what exchanges you've been on?
For foreign exchanges, there may not be as much of that AML & KYC compliance, but I really believe that you do have reporting requirements under FATCA for FBAR and something called an 8938, which if you listen to the podcast with Tyson, he kind of explains what that is. But it's basically if you have ownership of a foreign bank account or asset, you have certain reporting requirements, whether you've had income or not.
You want to make sure you at least track when you've actually exchanged crypto for cash or vice versa. That's partly because that's one of those areas where when people can get in trouble with some sort of federal investigators - because those types of transactions can be potentially considered money laundering.
For those who believe that they've used like-kind exchange rules to defer taxable gains -you should look on your tax returns to see if you filed the form 8824, which is where like kind exchanges are actually reported. That kind of goes back to the over reporting issue I was talking about before. I think that if you didn't report the actual trades that you're taking like-kind treatment for in past years, I don't know that you've actually taken like-kind treatment to be frank with you. I think, objectively, that might be viewed as just not reporting certain transactions.
You want to make sure that you address these issues sooner rather than later.
1099-K forms can be misleading - to the recipient and, potentially, the auditor. [32:40]
Alex: A 1099-K is actually a merchant processing third party information returns. And it really is typically associated with people who have credit card sales - so it's going to reflect a gross amount and typically on a monthly basis.
It shows the gross amount and what I've seen too is that sometimes transfers actually get caught into that amount as well. So it's not even just gross sales or purchases - it may have other information. So the 1099-K can be really inflated. That's why reconciling that against accounting records is really, really important because that is one of those issues that I think could lead to an exam.
To those who think crypto isn't beholden to tax laws: you are not correct. [37:38]
Alex: The current commissioner of the IRS is Charles Rettig, and he's a really well known practitioner in tax controversy. I know from people that know him well, that he's actually mentioned Reddit as one of the reasons that cryptocurrency enforcement is his number one enforcement priority right now.
The other person that I've seen speak a couple of times is the head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit. His name is Don Fort and every year he does a presentation at the National Tax Controversy and Criminal Tax Conference. The last two years cryptocurrency has been number two and number one on his list. As much as the IRS lacks the funding and the manpower that it needs for all the enforcement, the IRS CI are really, really good and they are probably best agency at dealing with cryptocurrency enforcement issues.
I really think that it's gaining steam and I think once the audits from the Coinbase summons kind of get going, I think it's going to be a really scrutinized area. I think the people who have gone through the cost and the pain of disclosing and amending returns and doing everything they can will be happy that they did in a couple of years. I think the other people are going to be sweating it out - I don't know if it's ever really worth it to be honest with you. I would recommend people do their best to get in compliance.
In summary: do your best to report your crypto gains and losses - and don't try to pull one over on the IRS. [42:36]
Alex: For people who have potential issues with past years, one is getting a consistent record and just amending your past years, so they're consistent.
For people who have the foreign account issues - let's just say, for example, had an account with Binance, and that Binance account was never reported. The IRS has disclosure programs that allow you to amend certain returns, pay the tax that you report and pay a penalty, which would be 5% of the the highest account value that you have.
For people who don't want to deal with this, I think taking evasive steps is the best way to get the worst result possible. One of the things that I learned very early in dealing with audits and tax compliance, is that you can always make things worse. I think you really just want to address it and resolve the issue while you have a good opportunity.
We may see criminal prosecution of some of the "big fish" tax evaders from the Coinbase summons. [46:43]
Alex: Yeah, and I think the two things that I'm fairly certain we're going to see: one is we're going to see the IRS use the information provided by Coinbase to start auditing the biggest account holders from that period. I think that's very likely.
Probably the second one that I would say is very likely is that you're going to see limited criminal prosecutions related to cryptocurrency. And these are going to be people that have some sort of level of notoriety, whether actually famous or maybe famous in the cryptocurrency world. That's typically how the IRS and Department of Justice uses limited resources to prosecute criminal tax tax crimes.
Alex is a great guy to reach out to with any audit-related questions, crypto or otherwise. [48:50]
Alex: You can go to my website: www.kugelmanlaw.com. You can email me at [email protected]. I have clients all over the country, international clients. If you need any sort of help, whether that's representing you, or at least doing the nitty gritty audit investigation, we're always willing to talk to people and help them out as best we can.

If you enjoyed our podcast, be sure to check back frequently for more great discussions about a range of topics in the crypto space. If you have any questions for Alex Kugelman, or want to schedule a consultation with him, he can be reached via his website www.kugelmanlaw.com, or via email at [email protected].
If you would like to request a topic for an interview, or have any questions related to this podcast, be sure to reach out to us at [email protected].
submitted by Sal-BitcoinTax to bitcointaxes [link] [comments]

Bitcoin & IRS Auditing - A Podcast Discussion

I recently interviewed Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawyer - I asked him about IRS audits in relation to crypto trading. Below is a link to the podcast interview itself, as well as a summary I wrote up. Thought this would be a good place to post (let me know if I'm wrong about that).
BitcoinTaxes Podcast Link

Highlights:
IRS audits are a real possibility for anyone who has traded cryptocurrencies. Our guest today is Alex Kugelman, a tax controversy lawyer with an abundance of knowledge concerning cryptocurrency audits. He's here to share his expertise on IRS cryptocurrency audits, including risk reduction strategies as well as enforcement predictions and misconceptions.
Alex Kugelman specializes in IRS audits. His experience includes four years of Federal government court experience at the U.S. Tax Court and a U.S. District Court. [00:40]
Alex: I'm an attorney out in California. I clerked for a US District Court judge and as well as the United States Tax Court. I've been in private practice exclusively doing tax controversy work for the past five years or so. I kind of got involved with crypto towards the end of 2016. I tended to represent clients mainly with compliance & disclosure issues with respect to cryptocurrency. I just really like it. Really interesting area.
The Coinbase summons in 2018 played a major role in Alex's interest in crypto audits. [01:19]
Alex: What started me into the crypto space was when the IRS first issued summons for Coinbase. We started getting some interesting calls regarding that. And at that time I thought to myself, this might be an interesting area. So I started following the actual summons enforcement proceeding at the District Court here in San Francisco - from there kind of worked with people under different types of compliance, including international disclosures. Now we're starting to see some of the first cryptocurrency audits come through.
First, let's get a brief rundown of how IRS audits work. [02:00]
Alex: It is important to understand the IRS as an administrative agency and all different layers of it. So when it comes to an audit the term that the IRS uses is an examination and there's three basic levels.
The first is a correspondence exam. That's where you get a letter that says, dear taxpayer, so-and-so reported that you had $100 of interest income that wasn't on your tax return - we're going to increase your tax. If you want to challenge that, you can. And that's basically termed an under reporter notice. That's probably not going to be a cryptocurrency audit if you get that notice.
The next one is an office exam. That is someone in the local IRS office sending you a letter that says, we have selected a certain tax return for audit and we're going to look at these issues. We'd like you to call us to schedule an appointment. That's going to be usually a tax compliance officer that is doing that.
The third and probably the most serious level of exam is a field examination. That's also going to be a local IRS representative, typically a revenue agent. There, the revenue agent may come to your work or ask come to your work or business to kind of conduct the audit.
All three of those are going to start the same: a letter that's sent to you at your most recent address provided to the IRS.
Cryptocurrency audits follow a similar protocol. [05:40]
Alex: I think it's likely that most crypto audits are going to start with one of two things happening. One is that there is information from the Coinbase summons that is inconsistent with what was on a taxpayer's tax return. I think for someone who's involved with that issue, they're going to have a good sense of that one because they should've gotten an email notice from Coinbase.
Or two, the audit notice is going to identify older tax years - 2013, 2014 or 2015 because those are the years that the information related to.
Another reason I think people will get audited is going to be because information on the return is incomplete, in the sense that the taxpayer or the cryptocurrency owner reports some transactions, without enough detail to figure out the actual cost basis.
Does reporting your data in an aggregated fashion increase your chances of being audited? [06:45]
Alex: I mean one - to the extent that there's going to be a lot of taxpayers - a lot of people use TurboTax, right? If that's the way TurboTax is preparing all of those returns, it would seem to me you're kind of in a herd of people like that. And at least it's consistent with what a lot of people are doing. The second part of that is going to be at least those people who have prepare the returns in that manner, they're going to, or should have, the underlying data. So even if it's an aggregate reporting of each asset class as opposed to each individual trade, if there ever were questions then you're going to have your CSV files, you're going to have your Bitcoin.tax exports, you're going to have all the information that you need to back that up.
Alex is an advocate of over-reporting your information to the IRS. [09:30]
Alex: I'm a big proponent of over-reporting - and I don't mean paying too much tax. I just mean including too much information. Because at some point there's kind of two ways that your returned can be flagged: a computer flags the return for some reason or there's a special unit or a person who actually flags it. At the end of the day, a human being will be looking at that return and deciding whether it actually is going to go all the way through to an audit. I want them to completely understand what's being reported, why it's been reported, and if there's too much information, that's fine - it's less likely that someone's going to have more questions.
A crypto audit is very likely to be a field exam - and it's important to hire a good rep. [11:00]
Alex: It's very likely going to be a field exam, which means you're going to have a revenue agent - and those are kind of the best of the best auditors for an IRS audit. And remember - an IRS audit is a civil matter. It is not criminal at this point. Again, it's unlikely that it will become criminal. It is, however, the highest level of audit you're going to get.
If you're going to hire a representative, which you have every right to do, you should contact that person, let them know what's going on and probably have them interface with the auditor. You should receive, as part of the opening notice or letter, the information document request - which is identifying what things to bring for the auditor. Also, it'll tip to what topics might be important. For example the typical things you're going to see will be bank statements, financial or asset account statements, which I view as requesting exchange statements or exchange CSV files. Any documents that show the cost basis for your cryptocurrency trades.
Audits are more art than science. [13:35]
Alex: The auditor has a fair amount of power. So if you play real hardball - that's not going to prevent the auditor from expanding to other years. So when you get that audit notice ,and let's say that you're going to deal with this yourself, the first thing you want to kind of figure out is what are the areas that I wouldn't want to go into, and what are the areas that I don't have good records? That will help guide the way to respond or what information to pull together.
The reality is, and let's just be honest here - for most people reporting cryptocurrency gains, they have all of the information. The IRS does not have much. They might have some records from Coinbase, but it's not as if they have a treasure trove of third party data.
The burden is really going to be, in every audit, on the taxpayer to prove their tax return is correct.
It's difficult to say how lenient the IRS will be regarding past years. [15:35]
Alex: I think the way that I would look at it is that maybe the standard of of records required to really substantiate older years might be a little bit lower for older years as opposed to now because it's different now. There's a lot better information provided by some of the exchanges. There's a lot more software out there to help you, especially for people who are newer to crypto. You should have access to all your bank records. You should still have a lot of emails, reflecting on-ramping off-ramping, or other purchases. You should be able to kind of pull this all together.
I can understand when we have clients who come in and are early adopters and they're missing chunks of information. So I do think that in those types of circumstances, yes, I think there would be a little bit of leniency. But I don't think if you're asking, hey, I reported my gains in 2017 but I never really did it 14, 15 or 16 - I don't think that's going to be viewed very favorably.
It is possible to substantiate your data without all of your records. [19:00]
Alex: I think the first thing is, I mean, outside of cryptocurrency and just generally in audits, how many people have complete records to support everything on their tax return from three years ago? Right? It's just not the reality.
The best source of information in a lot of these cryptocurrency clients are the clients themselves. They kind of know what they did and they can remember. There's some who take good notes and other people don't, but as you go through and ask people: what exchanges have you've been on, what type of coins, if you bought any ICOs, have you ever sold for actual US cash, and have you ever bought goods or services? As you talk through things people tend to recall what happened. We use that information and we cross check that against bank statements, as well as CSV files, to pick out what those transactions look like.
Most people have some sort of records, at least reflecting the transfer in and the transfer back out of that exchange. So you can use historical data and historical pricing information to essentially estimate what that transaction would have been. And then what we do is we provide a written statement summary of what we're doing and why we're doing it.
The other big one that we see all the time - and anybody listening to this, please hear this, do not trade for your friends on your exchange accounts - because that type of commingling causes such major problems. Essentially you are walking into those taxable gains just because you're allowing someone access to the exchange to make sales.
If you need representation for an audit, get representation. [23:00]
Alex: My general rule is that I think experienced representatives are really important. I probably would not hire the CPA that prepared my return unless they were: one, experienced with being a representative in audits. And two, you felt comfortable that they weren't going to go in there with a conflict of interest. But I do think if you're worried about going into audit - hiring a skilled, and experienced rep is really, really important.
If they're experienced with this, they should understand the appropriate ethical standards and go in there and essentially help resolve portions of the audit and move it to a resolution that you can deal with.
Taxpayers actually have a lot of leverage in an audit. And that sounds crazy to say, but there is a lot of truth to that. And so as you're kind of working through the audit itself, you want to make sure that you're not just agreeing to something to be done with it. You're not agreeing to something just because you think that you'll get in more trouble or get a worse result otherwise.
There are important risk-reduction strategies you can utilize to avoid a crypto audit. [28:15]
Alex: The first thing that you really want to do, is just assess; for those of you that are really worried about an audit - just assess what it is you've actually done over the years. When did you start trading, what exchanges were you on, do you have records that reflect on-ramping and off-ramping? And that's going to be your bank account statements. Do you know where you've been, what exchanges you've been on?
For foreign exchanges, there may not be as much of that AML & KYC compliance, but I really believe that you do have reporting requirements under FATCA for FBAR and something called an 8938, which if you listen to the podcast with Tyson, he kind of explains what that is. But it's basically if you have ownership of a foreign bank account or asset, you have certain reporting requirements, whether you've had income or not.
You want to make sure you at least track when you've actually exchanged crypto for cash or vice versa. That's partly because that's one of those areas where when people can get in trouble with some sort of federal investigators - because those types of transactions can be potentially considered money laundering.
For those who believe that they've used like-kind exchange rules to defer taxable gains -you should look on your tax returns to see if you filed the form 8824, which is where like kind exchanges are actually reported. That kind of goes back to the over reporting issue I was talking about before. I think that if you didn't report the actual trades that you're taking like-kind treatment for in past years, I don't know that you've actually taken like-kind treatment to be frank with you. I think, objectively, that might be viewed as just not reporting certain transactions.
You want to make sure that you address these issues sooner rather than later.
1099-K forms can be misleading - to the recipient and, potentially, the auditor. [32:40]
Alex: A 1099-K is actually a merchant processing third party information returns. And it really is typically associated with people who have credit card sales - so it's going to reflect a gross amount and typically on a monthly basis.
It shows the gross amount and what I've seen too is that sometimes transfers actually get caught into that amount as well. So it's not even just gross sales or purchases - it may have other information. So the 1099-K can be really inflated. That's why reconciling that against accounting records is really, really important because that is one of those issues that I think could lead to an exam.
To those who think crypto isn't beholden to tax laws: you are not correct. [37:38]
Alex: The current commissioner of the IRS is Charles Rettig, and he's a really well known practitioner in tax controversy. I know from people that know him well, that he's actually mentioned Reddit as one of the reasons that cryptocurrency enforcement is his number one enforcement priority right now.
The other person that I've seen speak a couple of times is the head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit. His name is Don Fort and every year he does a presentation at the National Tax Controversy and Criminal Tax Conference. The last two years cryptocurrency has been number two and number one on his list. As much as the IRS lacks the funding and the manpower that it needs for all the enforcement, the IRS CI are really, really good and they are probably best agency at dealing with cryptocurrency enforcement issues.
I really think that it's gaining steam and I think once the audits from the Coinbase summons kind of get going, I think it's going to be a really scrutinized area. I think the people who have gone through the cost and the pain of disclosing and amending returns and doing everything they can will be happy that they did in a couple of years. I think the other people are going to be sweating it out - I don't know if it's ever really worth it to be honest with you. I would recommend people do their best to get in compliance.
In summary: do your best to report your crypto gains and losses - and don't try to pull one over on the IRS. [42:36]
Alex: For people who have potential issues with past years, one is getting a consistent record and just amending your past years, so they're consistent.
For people who have the foreign account issues - let's just say, for example, had an account with Binance, and that Binance account was never reported. The IRS has disclosure programs that allow you to amend certain returns, pay the tax that you report and pay a penalty, which would be 5% of the the highest account value that you have.
For people who don't want to deal with this, I think taking evasive steps is the best way to get the worst result possible. One of the things that I learned very early in dealing with audits and tax compliance, is that you can always make things worse. I think you really just want to address it and resolve the issue while you have a good opportunity.
We may see criminal prosecution of some of the "big fish" tax evaders from the Coinbase summons. [46:43]
Alex: Yeah, and I think the two things that I'm fairly certain we're going to see: one is we're going to see the IRS use the information provided by Coinbase to start auditing the biggest account holders from that period. I think that's very likely.
Probably the second one that I would say is very likely is that you're going to see limited criminal prosecutions related to cryptocurrency. And these are going to be people that have some sort of level of notoriety, whether actually famous or maybe famous in the cryptocurrency world. That's typically how the IRS and Department of Justice uses limited resources to prosecute criminal tax tax crimes.
Alex is a great guy to reach out to with any audit-related questions, crypto or otherwise. [48:50]
Alex: You can go to my website: www.kugelmanlaw.com. You can email me at [email protected]. I have clients all over the country, international clients. If you need any sort of help, whether that's representing you, or at least doing the nitty gritty audit investigation, we're always willing to talk to people and help them out as best we can.
---
If you would like to request a topic for an interview, or have any questions related to this podcast, you can reach out to me at [email protected].
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As Binance rises to the top in the world of cryptocurrency exchanges, the aim of helping the ‘bottom billion’ of the world’s poorest population is an equally important part of the overall ... Bitcoin Scams: Complete List of Cryptocurrency Hacks, History & Help by BitcoinExchangeGuide. Hello valued visitors, welcome to the biggest, most comprehensive bitcoin scams guide on the Internet. It is the largest, most detailed all-in-one cryptocurrency hacks list available during bitcoin’s ten-year history you will find anywhere online (last updated April 2019). If a reporter who’s been embedded in the space is having this much trouble, imagine how hard it might be for a complete newcomer. This is going to remain one of the biggest barriers to mainstream adoption. Crypto and Taxes 2020: Wednesday is this year’s deadline for Americans to file their tax returns, and cryptocurrency users’ obligations are as confusing as ever. This series of ... Bitcoin is unique in that it is now so big it is feasibly impossible for any one group to get that much control over it. This is a much larger risk with smaller cyptocurrencies. DNS And Website Redirection Hacks. This type of hacking results in a more sophisticated scam. A DNS hack takes control of a website’s server information then makes it redirect the user to their nearly duplicate ... Binance has been accused of “aiding and abetting” the theft of $60 million in cryptocurrency in 2018. Crypto exchange Zaif, now called Fisco, has said hackers transferred 1,451 bitcoin (~$9.4 million at the time) to an address belonging to Binance and used the exchange’s minimal know-your-customer and trading procedures to launder the ... That being said, this verification is only relevant for 1 June 2018, and is no indication of how much money Tether had in the bank before or after that date. Tether’s General Counsel, Stu Hoegner, says it are not able to obtain an audit due to the nature of the cryptocurrency industry. Cryptocurrency is uncharted territory for auditors, there is uncertainty about how standard auditing rules ... How much was bitcoin worth in 2009? It is one of the most popular questions about the history Bitcoin. The value of the first bitcoin transactions were negotiated by individuals on the bitcoin forum with one notable transaction of 10,000 BTC used to indirectly purchase two pizzas delivered by Papa John's. This was the only major security flaw found and exploited in bitcoin's history. January ... In addition to investing cryptocurrency into early-stage, open-source companies working with children, the fund represents the first time any UN agency, much less one that generated $6.7 billion ... The next one is an office exam. That is someone in the local IRS office sending you a letter that says, we have selected a certain tax return for audit and we’re going to look at these issues. We’d like you to call us to schedule an appointment. That’s going to be usually a tax compliance officer that is doing that. The third and probably the most serious level of exam is a field ... Libra Coin is a new initial coin offering that claims to be a decentralized peer to peer currency much in the same way as Bitcoin. The Libra Coin platform doesn’t actually deliver anything different from Bitcoin or other high market cap cryptos such as Ethereum, and as it doesn't explain anything about the blockchain upon which it is built, it’s impossible to determine whether it is ...

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This Line Is Critical For Bitcoin + Binance Scandal

Coinbase is an American not usually a popular cryptocurrency exchange office. ----- ----- You can play on the stock market, invest in various projects, cryptocurrencies, mines, ICO but you should ... Join Kucoin Exchange Here! https://www.kucoin.com/#/?r=1vvfH Join Binance Exchange Here! https://www.binance.com/?ref=10273661 Mine Bitcoin and other Cryptoc... #bitcoin #like #cryptocurrency #news #btc #ethereum #eth #cryptocurrency #litecoin #altcoin #altcoins #eos #forex #money #best #trading #bitcoinmining #invest #trader #cryptocurrencies #top # ... Euro Coin 2020, BTC Hash Rate Control, SALT + Uphold, Tezos Keeps Rising & Crypto Post Office The Modern Investor. Loading... Unsubscribe from The Modern Investor? Cancel Unsubscribe. Working ... Paxful is a community made up of millions just like you. People from all corners of the world come here to connect and buy bitcoin directly from others without the hassle of a middleman. JOIN ... This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue. Watch Queue Queue Protect yourself with CryptoTax Audit Protection CryptoTax Audit Link: ... Open a Binance Account to Buy Bitcoin and XRP and receive $15 Binance U.S. Link: https://bit.ly/39U0Mam Open a Coinbase ... Binance found a regulatory home in Malta in 2018, but are they about to be BANISHED! Binance’s partner in mafia crime, Joseph Muscat, has resigned as Malta’s PM in his office’s connection to ... Binance office closure FUD (CZ states -No police, no raid, no office. Hope you didn’t pay to read that FUD block.)..., BTC crash- XRP ripple news, eth block reward down, technical analysis of ... I’m not sure if calling this a hack is appropriate or even correct, which is why I have gone with a factual episode title. We won’t know the full story until they complete the security audit ...

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