Judge Approves IRS Request to Seek Bitcoin & Coinbase User Information

A federal judge ordered today that The US Internal Revenue Service can serve bitcoin and ether exchange startup Coinbase with a summons for information about its users.

In an order dated 30th November, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley sided with a request filed earlier this month by the IRS as it seeks to investigate alleged tax violations in the US.  Coinbase said that it expected the order and that it would release a formal statement later today.

The US government celebrated the development, with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noting in a statement:

“Transactions in virtual currency are taxable just like those in any other property. The John Doe summons is a step designed to help the IRS ensure people doing business in the emerging economy are following the tax laws and meeting their responsibilities.”

The IRS is seeking Coinbase user records from between 31st December 2013 and 31st December 2015. The startup said after the agency’s initial filing that it would oppose the effort.

Since mid-2015, the IRS has considered bitcoin and other digital currencies as kinds of taxable property. A recent report from the agency’s inspector general, however, blasted the IRS for a failure to develop a cohesive strategy for digital currency taxation – something that tax professionals have criticized it for as well.