The IRS Wants to Know More About Privacy-Enhancing Crypto Coins, Tools

America's tax collector is laying the groundwork for a possible assault on privacy-enhancing cryptocurrency technologies.

AccessTimeIconJul 2, 2020 at 5:06 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:59 a.m. UTC

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is laying the groundwork for a possible assault on privacy-enhancing cryptocurrency technologies.

  • IRS-CI Cyber Crimes Unit challenged its “industry partners” to explain where the crypto tracing community stands on privacy coins, Layer 2 protocols, sidechains and the Schnorr signature algorithm in a June 30 Request for Information (RFI), as first reported by The Block.
  • “There are few investigative resources for tracing transactions” that move across these privacy-enhancing vectors, the IRS said, noting a recent spike in illicit privacy coin use. “The CI Cyber Crimes program is working to get in front of this trend.”
  • The IRS singled out the monero, zcash, dash, grin, komodo, verge and horizen privacy coins, sidechains Plasma and OmiseGo, and Layer 2 protocol networks Lightning, Raiden and Celer.
  • What’s good for user privacy is bad for investigative efficacy: The IRS bemoaned the Bitcoin blockchain’s apparent plans to integrate Schnorr signatures, writing that such a move will undercut IRS agents’ current tracing techniques. 
  • The tax agency seeks estimates of how much it would cost to “support this initiative” as well as return on investment estimates.

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.