Bitcoin anonymity no longer guaranteed; summons served to U.S. exchange

Bitcoins
Bitcoin’s veil of privacy for 3 million Coinbase customers has been threatened. It may be torn down completely as a result of a summons authorized Wednesday by a federal judge. The Internal Revenue Service is seeking customer identity and 2014 to 2015 transaction records from Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin exchange in the U.S. The summons is characterized as “the largest single attempt to identify tax evaders using virtual currency to date,” reports Gizmodo.

The summons, called a “John Doe summons,” does not name specific individuals, but a class of taxpayers. The IRS argued that because of tax evasion cases involving two Coinbase customers and Bitcoin’s “relatively high level of anonymity,” there is a “reasonable basis” for concern that the other Coinbase customers may be evading taxes as well, according to an earlier article in The New York Times.

More: Bitcoin value surges following Trump’s victory

Coinbase has characterized the IRS inquiries as a “very, very broad fishing expedition,” and said it will fight the summons.

According to the Justice Department, “There is no allegation in this suit that Coinbase has engaged in any wrongdoing in connection with its virtual currency exchange business. Rather, the IRS uses John Doe summonses to obtain information about possible violations of internal revenue laws by individuals whose identities are unknown.”

Gizmodo noted the IRS declared in 2014 that, as property, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are subject to taxes on profits from sales as taxable income.

Coinbase had about 3 million customers at the end of 2015. The New York Times article reported the IRS is “interested in going after both large tax evaders as well as small-time Bitcoin users who might not be recording their virtual currency transactions properly for tax purposes.”

The IRS has said that while Coinbase provides customers with gain and loss statements for each transaction, but it has no means of knowing if anonymous customers are filing related tax information in compliance with the law.

The New York Times quoted IRS Agent David Utzke saying, “The risk/reward ratio for a taxpayer in the virtual currency environment is extremely low, and the likelihood of underreporting is significant. The characteristics of virtual currencies could enable them to replace traditional abusive tax arrangements as the preferred method for tax evaders.”

For Coinbase customers, the risk of not reporting Bitcoin trades properly may be about to increase dramatically.

Cars

You don’t need to go autonomous to make trucking safer

Long haul truckers are very good at their jobs, but they face long hours and unpredictable conditions. Autonomous tech may be coming, but here’s how lidar technology companies are working to enhance trucking safety today.
Mobile

T-Mobile attempts to reinvent customer service with its new ‘Team of Experts’

In an attempt to reinvent how it approaches customer care, T-Mobile announced its Team of Experts. Whenever a customer contacts T-Mobile, they're given direct access to the same team members each time without being put on hold or…
Mobile

Sprint and LG team up on a 5G smartphone set for release in first half of 2019

Sprint and LG are teaming up to bring customers the first 5G smartphone in the U.S. While details on design and specifications have yet to be released, the carrier confirmed the device will be available in the first half of 2019.
Wearables

Less glitz, more tech for Michael Kors and its new Access Runway smartwatch

Michael Kors has brought back the Access Runway name it last used in 2016, and this time attached it to a Wear OS smartwatch, complete with new tech, and a cool way of customizing the watch face too.
Cars

Take a closer look at the Faraday Future FF 91 with this virtual tour

The Faraday Future FF 91 electric crossover boasts some impressive statistics, but Faraday still hasn't delivered any to customers. In the meantime, take a virtual walk around this Tesla-fighting electric car.
Emerging Tech

Be a master of your own ever-changing ‘galaxy’ with this kinetic wall art

Art Machine is a stunning work of kinetic art that looks like a continuously swirling galaxy or turbulent weather formation viewed through a ship's porthole. Check it out in all its glory.
Emerging Tech

Omega Centauri hosts 10 million stars and probably not an ounce of life

Omega Centauri is about 16,000 light years away, making it visible to the naked eye. And it contains some 10 million stars, making it the largest globular cluster in the Milky Way. But it probably doesn't have an ounce of life.
Emerging Tech

The world’s first practical quantum computer has cash and a timeline

The dream of building a practical quantum computer could be closer than ever, thanks to a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to seven universities around the United States.
Emerging Tech

Forget flying cars: This shoe-tying robot is proof that the future is here

Engineering students from the University of California, Davis, recently built a robot whose sole personality in life is to tie shoelaces. It cost them under $600 to do it as well!
Emerging Tech

Bizarre stork robot uses a drone to compensate for its weak, twig-like legs

Developed by engineers from Japan’s University of Tokyo, Aerial Biped is a robot whose top half is comprised of a flying quadrotor UAV that's rooted to the ground by thin stork-like legs.
Emerging Tech

A treasure trove of 3D scientific specimens is now free to see online

Thanks to the California Academy of Sciences, you can access more than 700 scientific specimens and artifacts from the world-class collection via the online 3D and virtual reality platform Sketchfab.
Emerging Tech

Lyd is a battery-powered, ‘no-spill’ bottle that is activated by your lips

Lyd is a battery-powered bottle that’s something like a sippy cup for adults. Its no-spill solution is a specialized lid that uses an algorithm to detect when your lips are on the bottle.
Emerging Tech

Cotton and corn! Reebok’s newest sneaker is ‘made from things that grow’

Keen to move away from using oil-based materials to make its footwear, Reebok has turned to cotton and corn for its latest sneaker. No dyes have been used to color the shoes, either, and the packaging is 100 percent recyclable.
Computing

Apple AR glasses will launch in 2020, says respected industry analyst

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.