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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman Defends Crypto Provision in US Infrastructure Bill

Portman argues his "common sense" provision will provide clarity for the crypto industry by standardizing information reporting of brokers.

Aug 4, 2021 at 3:57 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:35 p.m. UTC

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) is defending a controversial crypto provision slipped into the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that's being debated in the Senate.

The provision seeks to raise $28 billion in taxes from crypto businesses by applying new information reporting requirements to exchanges and potentially other types of crypto services.

Portman argues his "common sense" provision will provide more clarity and legitimacy for the crypto industry by standardizing information reporting by brokers to the Internal Revenue Service.

The controversy centers around the definition of the term "broker" as any person who provides a service "effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person." Some argue that has wide-reaching implications and could extend to decentralized exchanges as well as to crypto miners.

Decentralized exchanges were explicitly named in an earlier draft of the provision, though the term was removed in the final version published late Sunday.

Portman has struck back at criticism over the legislation, saying the bill's language doesn't impose new reporting requirements on software developers, crypto miners, node operators or other non-brokers.

"It simply says that brokers must comply with standard information reporting obligations. Which many already do," the senator said.

There is bipartisan opposition to the provision, however. Sens. Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.), Cynthia Lummis (R.-Wyo.) and Pat Toomey (R.-Penn.) are working on an amendment to modify the language, though how they intend to do so isn't known yet.

The crypto provision was one of a handful of issues that have held up the 2,702-page infrastructure bill, CoinDesk has previously reported.

DISCLOSURE

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.

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