The Internal Revenue Service is using bitcoin transaction tracing tools developed by startup Chainalysis, according to a new report.
Documents obtained by Washington publication The Daily Beast show that the tax agency has been using the startup's software since 2015.
Additional data from the General Services Administration, which handles the US government's logistics, indicates that the IRS has an active contract with Chainalysis that is valid through the beginning of September. To date, the IRS has paid Chainalysis more than $88,000.
The IRS states in the documentation that it's using the software to "trace the movement of money through the bitcoin economy," going on to explain:
While it's no secret that US officials are interested in closer oversight of cryptocurrency activities – a group of influential senators pushed for this kind of policy shift in late May – the IRS contract is notable given the tax agency's investigation of potential tax avoiders and its ongoing lawsuit against exchange startup Coinbase.
As previously reported by CoinDesk, the IRS wants to obtain several years' worth of data on customers of Coinbase.
The startup has pushed back against the IRS in federal court, ultimately forcing the tax agency to narrow its information request. In recent days, groups like the libertarian think-tank Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Washington-based nonprofit Coin Center have moved to oppose the effort in subsequent filings.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Chainalysis and Coinbase.
Magnifying glass image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.