This move I made right here, it’s unbelievable. They will talk
about this business move at Harvard.
—Floyd Mayweather Jr. on coming out of retirement
24th July 2017  
 
 

Coinbase customer fights back

 
The Story

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley has allowed one of the customers of San Francisco-based digital currency exchange Coinbase to challenge the enforcement of U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s summons to get hold of thousands of Coinbase’s transaction records.

 

Give me a background on the case.

Last year, a California district court allowed the IRS to require Coinbase to submit records of all transactions that took place from 2013 to 2015. The tax agency said the summons was part of its probe into possible tax fraud. However, Coinbase and several anonymous customers, challenged the summons.

 

But the IRS modified its summons.

The summons instead focused on users who had engaged in a bitcoin-related transaction “at least the equivalent of $20,000” between 2013 and 2015.

 

What’s special about this customer?

In her decision, Corley said that the customer—which was identified as John Doe 4—met all the four factors set to determine whether his right to intervene should be granted. The motions to intervene filed by three other John Does were rejected by the court as the narrowed-down IRS summons did not include their records.

 

In granting the motion, IRS got a verbal beating from Corley.

In her decision, the judge said “the IRS offers no explanation as to how the IRS can legitimately use most of these millions of records on hundreds of thousands of users.” Also, Corley noted that the IRS “cannot cite a single case that supports such broad discretion to obtain the records of every bank-account holding American.”

 

Takeaway

The court’s decision underscored the need to protect customer data. Giving the tax agency access to thousands of Coinbase records might result to a trumped-up tax fraud case against the bitcoin company.

 
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