Bloomberg Politics: Bitcoin Falls Into Gray Area of Disclosure Rules for Congress


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.


Former OGE head Walter Shaub, now at Campaign Legal Center, which seeks stricter laws governing money in politics, said that most responsible way to classify bitcoin would be as an asset, like gold bars held for investment. That would mean filers would have to disclose holdings of more than $1000, or income from the asset of more than $200. A second option would be to treat bitcoin like a "cash account" which must be reported if it holds more than $5000.

“The third way, which I view as irresponsible, would be to treat bitcoin as akin to paper or metal money stored in a desk drawer or safety deposit box that is not held for investment purposes,” Shaub said. Cash stored in this way does not have to be reported.

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