Image credit/info link here. (Note: this links to a Bloomberg summary/background on Bitcoin for people like me who are fascinated by Bitcoin but find the concept very hard to grasp. I strongly suggest you read this prior to commenting.)
This week, it was announced that Bitcoins would not be treated as property for taxing purposes. The Internal Revenue Sercice (IRS) will apply the rules that currently regulate stocks and barter transactions to Bitcoins. This marks the first substantive ruling from the IRS concerning Bitcoins. According to a Bloomberg report, this could reduce the volume of transactions conducted using Bitcoins. Charles Allen, the chief executive officer of BitcoinShop Inc., released a statement following the IRS's announcement. He commented, "“The implications this decision will have on the Bitcoin ecosystem are far reaching, and will be burdensome for both individual users of Bitcoins, Bitcoin-focused business and for the general adoption of virtual currencies."
According to the same Bloomberg article mentioned in the previous paragraph, Bitcoin investors will now be treated like stock investors. For example, if a Bitcoin is held for more than a year and is then sold, it will be taxed at the lower rate applicable to capital gains. The United States also allows investors with losses to subtract capital losses from any capital gains.
Zooming out from the Bitcoin tax issue, it's also interesting to consider the opinions of some well-known, trusted experts. A couple of months ago, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave his "cautious blessing" to Bitcoin in a letter to the Congress. On the other hand, American investor Warren Buffett, also known as one of the wealthiest men on Earth, opposes Bitcoin, calling it a "mirage" that is best avoided. (You can also check out venture capitalist Marc Andreessen's criticism of Buffett and an address of those criticisms here.)
A couple of ideas to consider:
- Given what we have learned about taxes, do you think the IRS is wise to categorize Bitcoins as property, not currency? What are potential pros and cons of this?
- Bitcoin doesn't have a central bank. In what ways does this liberate the Bitcoin system?
- What is your take on Ben Bernanke's "cautious blessing"? What is your take on Buffett's "mirage" statement?
Additional Christian Science Monitor link
Want to test your Bitcoin knowledge? Take this quiz by the Christian Science Monitor.