Not only has Coinbase had to deal with an overload in users crashing its servers this week but it also suffered the double whammy of the US courts demanding more user details. As Bitcoin continued to break price barriers, topping $11,000 yesterday, traders took to their exchanges to get in on the action. Coinbase is one of the largest exchanges and hence suffered outages as transactions reached record levels. Error screens and outage notices greeted hundreds of customers on Coinbase and its partner exchange GDAX over the past 24 hours.
Adding to its woes the exchange faced more problems this week when a US district court ordered it to hand over thousands of user records to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). With billions of dollars in trade passing through its systems the US government wants to know who and where it is going and, more importantly, who owes them taxes.
The court has demanded that Coinbase reveal information on all clients that have made transactions worth $20,000 or more between 2013 and 2015. According to the court papers the exchange estimated that the request would include almost 9 million transactions over 14,355 different accounts. Details demanded included names, birth dates, addresses, tax IDs, transaction logs, and account invoices.
Originally the IRS demanded details on ALL transactions for the period in a previous court order from November last year. Coinbase ignored this claiming that it was a huge breech of its customer’s privacy. The summons was refiled in March with a more specific data set. The court papers claim that “only 800 to 900 taxpayers reported gains related to bitcoin in each of the relevant years and that more than 14,000 Coinbase users have either bought, sold, sent or received at least $20,000 worth of bitcoin in a given year suggests that many Coinbase users may not be reporting their bitcoin gains,”. The IRS want to see where the difference has gone, the number of tax returns has not tallied up with the huge growth of digital currencies as an investment opportunity.
Americans seem to get the sharp end of the stick when it comes to financial freedom, the “land of the free” does not extend to your money it appears. A number of exchanges have already limited or prohibited access to trading or opening accounts for US citizens, Bitfinex being one of them. The wrath of Uncle Sam is ensuring that its people remain financially enslaved.