Bitcoin Maximalist Michael Saylor Sued for Tax Fraud by DC

The attorney general’s office is also suing the business software company for allegedly helping him evade taxes on his earnings in the district.

AccessTimeIconAug 31, 2022 at 5:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 1, 2022 at 4:34 p.m. UTC

Nelson Wang is CoinDesk's news editor for the East Coast. He holds BTC and ETH above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.

The District of Columbia is suing MicroStrategy (MSTR) founder and Executive Chairman Michael Saylor for allegedly never paying any income taxes in the district in the more than 10 years he has lived there, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

In addition, Racine tweeted that his office is suing MicroStrategy “for conspiring to help him evade taxes he legally owes on hundreds of millions of dollars he’s earned while living” in Washington.

The attorney general's office alleged Saylor avoided paying more than $25 million in taxes to the district and is seeking back taxes, treble damages, civil penalties, expenses and fees.

Saylor is a bitcoin (BTC) maximalist who has bet the business software company’s future on the cryptocurrency, amassing billions of dollars of worth it over the past few years. He recently stepped down as CEO to focus on MicroStrategy’s bitcoin strategy.

Also on Twitter, Racine wrote that the action is "the first lawsuit brought under [the district’s] recently amended False Claims Act encouraging whistleblowers to report residents who evade our tax laws by misrepresenting their residence."

MicroStrategy shares lost almost 4% Wednesday following Racine’s tweets. In a statement, Saylor said that although MicroStrategy headquarters is in Virginia, he had moved to Miami Beach. "Florida is where I live, vote, and have reported for jury duty, and it is at the center of my personal and family life," he said. "I respectfully disagree with the position of the District of Columbia, and look forward to a fair resolution in the courts."

According to a copy of the complaint shared with CoinDesk, Saylor lived in a penthouse in Washington while "masquerading" as a resident of Florida or Virginia, by purchasing property and registering to vote in these states. However, he still lived in the district for at least 183 days per year, which is the minimum to be a "statutory resident."

The district attorney general's office also alleged that Saylor had MicroStrategy report his residency as being in Florida in forms filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

"Concerned about MicroStrategy’s involvement in Defendant Saylor’s fraudulent scheme to avoid District taxes, in or about 2014, MicroStrategy’s then-Chief Financial Officer undertook a count of the number of days that Defendant Saylor spent in Florida as compared to the District and found that because Saylor spent the majority of each year in the District, MicroStrategy could not justify misreporting Saylor’s residency to federal tax official," the complaint said.

In a statement, MicroStrategy called the District of Columbia case "a personal tax matter involving Mr. Saylor."

"The Company was not responsible for his day-to-day affairs and did not oversee his individual tax responsibilities," MicroStrategy said. "Nor did the Company conspire with Mr. Saylor in the discharge of his personal tax responsibilities. The District of Columbia’s claims against the Company are false."

Nikhilesh De contributed reporting.

UPDATE (August 31, 2022 18:07 UTC): Adds information about response from Racine's office.

UPDATE (August 31, 18:30 UTC): Adds information from the complaint and additional tweet from Racine.

UPDATE (August 31, 22:51 UTC): Adds Saylor and MicroStrategy statements.

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Nelson Wang is CoinDesk's news editor for the East Coast. He holds BTC and ETH above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Nelson Wang is CoinDesk's news editor for the East Coast. He holds BTC and ETH above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.