Bitcoin Falls Into Gray Area of Disclosure Rules for Congress

Bloomberg Politics discusses Bitcoin with Jim Harper.

To guard against insider trading and financial conflicts, members of Congress and federal officials must file regular reports on their assets — including stocks, bonds and derivatives.

Yet there’s no explicit mention in the disclosure requirements about bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies that are drawing intense interest from investors and confounding regulators worldwide.

It’s a gray area that highlights how digital currencies have have left governments racing to catch up with rapid changes in finance. It’s also one that’s generating concern from ethics specialists as lawmakers and U.S. agencies weigh how to regulate the emerging market.

Jim Harper, executive vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian-leaning research group, and former global policy counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, which promotes the digital coins, said cryptocurrencies are increasingly being held as investments and are best disclosed as assets.

“If bitcoin were just purely a currency there is an argument that you wouldn’t have to report it,” he said. With the IRS treating virtual currency as property for tax purposes, he added, “the spirit of transparency would require disclosure.”

Read the full article at Bloomberg Politics.