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Are Bitcoins Illegal

author
Ava Flores
• Wednesday, 28 October, 2020
• 11 min read

India banned banks from dealing in bitcoins and left the overall legal status of cryptocurrencies unclear. In the U.S., the IRS has taken an increasing interest in Bitcoin and issued guidelines for taxpayers.

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(Source: www.versustexas.com)

Contents

Bitcoin has serious flaws for those seeking anonymity, so illegal activity is moving to other cryptocurrencies. In the United States, the IRS has taken an increasing interest in Bitcoin and issued guidelines.

In 2014, the agency issued IRS Notice 2014-21 to provide information on the tax treatment of virtual currencies. Bitcoin exists in a deregulated marketplace, so there is no centralized issuing authority.

Bitcoin addresses do not require Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or other personal information like standard bank accounts in the United States. In its early years, the perceived anonymity of Bitcoin led to many illegal uses.

It was a section of the so-called dark web where users could buy illicit drugs. Competing cryptocurrencies, such as Monera and Cash, now provide much better privacy protection.

The digital currency known as Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a person or organization using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. There are no physical bitcoins that correspond with dollar bills and euro notes.

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(Source: paybis.com)

That is partly because speculation often drives the price, but also because bitcoins have a relatively small market compared to traditional currencies. Legal The European Union has passed no specific legislation relative to the status of bitcoin as a currency, but has stated that VAT/GST is not applicable to the conversion between traditional (fiat) currency and bitcoin.

In October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that “The exchange of traditional currencies for units of the 'bitcoin' virtual currency is exempt from VAT” and that “Member States must exempt, inter alia, transactions relating to 'currency, banknotes and coins used as legal tender '”, making bitcoin a currency as opposed to being a commodity. The European Central Bank classifies bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency.

In 2016 the European Parliament's proposal to set up a taskforce to monitor virtual currencies to combat money laundering and terrorism, passed by 542 votes to 51, with 11 abstentions, has been sent to the European Commission for consideration. Bitcoin, the world’s first decentralized digital currency, is attracting attention across the globe.

When acknowledging that it is also the first borderless, apolitical form of money in history, it’s hard to avoid the topic of whether it can be used legally. It’s worth noting that no matter who says you can’t use bitcoin, its decentralized nature ensures that nobody can actually stop you from using it.

Other countries, like China, have shifted their view on bitcoin, banning and unbanning the currency in various ways over the last few years. But, by and large, it is legal to send, receive, mine and generally use bitcoin in most countries around the world.sized protocol.

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(Source: bitcoinexchangeguide.com)

Some first world countries, like the United States, Canada, and most of Europe, have taken a “wait and see” approach to bitcoin by not outright banning it, but they are slow to regulate it as a legitimate financial technology. The problem arises when each regulatory body has their own viewpoint on what classification the digital currency falls under.

As for why this is, YouGov surveys have found that 29% of EU and North American respondents believe that Bitcoin is used predominantly by Dark Web criminals. For the most part, lazy news media is to blame for concerns over the legality of Bitcoin.

During both bear and bull markets many, therefore, recycle Dark Web myths which have already been debunked several times over. As a result, countries like Vietnam have become go-to places to set up Bitcoin mining operations.

Contrary to popular opinion, Bitcoin is not the cryptocurrency of choice for Dark Web users. In fact, Bitcoin is the worst form of currency (crypto or otherwise) to plan on using in illicit transactions.

Because of this, Dark Web criminals prefer to use dedicated privacy coins when wheeling and dealing. World governments are, therefore, collecting more tax and working with institutions to find ways to regulate cryptocurrency better.

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(Source: survivea.blogspot.com)

However, it is worth noting that previous attempts to ban Bitcoin in countries like China and Russian have only led to increased rates of black market adoption. In this case, there is a strong argument to be made that banning Bitcoin would be significantly counterproductive for countries like the United States and Europe.

Bitcoin requires certain properties to be enforced for it to be a good form of money, for example: Therefore, anybody attempting to create bitcoins with invalid properties will find themselves being rejected by any trading partners.

Lightweight (SPV) wallets will blindly trust the miners, meaning if 51% of miners printed infinite coins or spent the same coin twice then lightweight wallet users would happily accept these fake bitcoins as payment. Miners burn a lot of electrical power in the mining process, so they must constantly be trading their bitcoin income in order to pay bills.

This makes miners utterly dependent on the bitcoin economy at large and therefore gives them a strong incentive to mine valid bitcoin blocks that full nodes will accept as payment. Influential figures in the community (such as developers, politicians or investors) may try to use their influence to convince people to download and run modified full node software which changes bitcoin's properties in illegitimate ways.

This is unlikely to succeed as long as counterarguments can freely spread through the media, internet forums and chatroom. All appeals to run alternative software should be looked at critically for whether the individual agrees with the changes being proposed.

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(Source: btcmanager.com)

Full node software should always be open source, so any programmer can examine the changes for themselves. Bitcoins have properties resulting from the system's design that allows them to be subjectively valued by individuals.

This statement is an attempt to apply to Bitcoin the labor theory of value, which is generally accepted as false. In fact the causality is the reverse of that (this applies to the labor theory of value in general).

These effects balance out to cause mining to always cost an amount proportional to the value of bitcoins it produces . Each bitcoin gives the holder the ability to embed many short in-transaction messages in a globally distributed and timestamped permanent data store, namely the bitcoin blockchain.

But as of December 2013, it's fair to say that one bitcoin allows around 1000 such messages to be embedded, each within about 10 minutes of being sent, since a fee of 0.001 BTC is enough to get transactions confirmed quickly. Considering that electronic notarization services charge something like $10/document, this would give an intrinsic value of around $10,000 per bitcoin.

In any event, while historically intrinsic value, as well as other attributes like divisibility, frangibility, scarcity, durability, helped establish certain commodities as mediums of exchange, it is certainly not a prerequisite. In March 2013, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issues a new set of guidelines on “decentralized virtual currency”, clearly targeting Bitcoin.

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(Source: www.businessinsider.com.au)

Under the new guidelines, “a user of virtual currency is not Money Services Businesses (MSB) under Fin CEN's regulations and therefore is not subject to MSB registration, reporting, and record keeping regulations.” Miners, when mining bitcoins for their own personal use, aren't required to register as an MSB or Money Transmitter.

While national laws may vary from country to country, and you should certainly check the laws of your jurisdiction, in general trading in any commodity, including digital currency like Bitcoin, Berkshires, game currencies like WoW gold, or Linden dollars, is not illegal. Cash transactions offer an increased level of anonymity, yet are still taxed successfully.

It is up to you to follow the applicable tax laws in your home country, or face the consequences. Tax evaders are often caught because their lifestyle and assets are inconsistent with their reported income, and not necessarily because government is able to follow their money.

Finally, the Bitcoin blockchain is a permanent record of all transactions, meaning it can be mined for info at any time in the future making investigation, tracing of funds, etc much easier than with other forms of payment. Instead, blocks are computed by miners and for their efforts they are awarded a specific amount of bitcoins and transaction fees paid by others.

If you believe that these algorithms are untrustworthy then you should not trust Bitcoin, credit card transactions or any type of electronic bank transfer. Early adopters are rewarded for taking the higher risk with their time and money.

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(Source: www.ashreinu.us)

The capital invested in bitcoin at each stage of its life invigorated the community and helped the currency to reach subsequent milestones. Arguing that early adopters do not deserve to profit from this is akin to saying that early investors in a company, or people who buy stock at a company IPO (Initial Public Offering), are unfairly rewarded.

In more pragmatic terms, “fairness” is an arbitrary concept that is improbable to be agreed upon by a large population. Looking forwards, considering the amount of publicity bitcoin received as of April 2013, there can be no reasonable grounds for complaint for people who did not invest at that time, and then see the value (possibly) rising drastically higher.

As the value of the unit of 1 BTC grew too large to be useful for day to day transactions, people started dealing in smaller units, such as mill- bitcoins (MBC) or micro- bitcoins (BTC). If you give your bank details (or bitcoin wallet) to someone else, that doesn't double the amount of money in your account.

The answer is that it is impossible to distinguish between a 'lost' coin and one that is simply sitting unused in someone's wallet. Earlier adopters profit from the rise in value as Bitcoin becomes better understood and in turn demanded by the public at large.

Inflation is simply a rise of prices over time, which is generally the result of the devaluing of a currency. Given the fact that the supply of bitcoins is fixed at a certain amount, unlike fiat money, the only way for inflation to get out of control is for demand to disappear.

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(Source: www.baselgovernance.org)

Temporary inflation is possible with a rapid adoption of Fractional Reserve Banking but will stabilize once a substantial number of the 21 million “hard” bitcoins are stored as reserves by banks. The key point here is that Bitcoin as a currency can't be inflated by any single person or entity, like a government, as there's no way to increase supply past a certain amount.

While it may have been started by ideological enthusiasts, Bitcoin now speaks to many regular pragmatic folks, who simply see its potential for reducing the costs and friction of global e-commerce. Already the Bitcoin network's computing power is quite ahead of the world's fastest supercomputers, together.

Under no circumstances could an attacker create counterfeit coins, fake transactions, or take anybody else's money. An attacker's capabilities are limited to taking back their own money that they very recently spent, and preventing other people's transactions from receiving confirmations.

Such an attack would be very costly in resources, and for such meager benefits there is little rational economic incentive to do such a thing. When operating costs can't be covered by the block creation bounty, which will happen some time before the total amount of BTC is reached, miners will earn some profit from transaction fees.

It's worth noting that virtually all successful consumer-facing bitcoin businesses do indeed already implement some kind of consumer protection; Routine escrow was used by Local bitcoins, Silk Road and the bitcoin Bayside Limit. The bitcoin method of routinely using escrow has benefits over competitors like credit cards.

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(Source: www.extremetech.com)

The security of credit cards is not very good which results in higher costs overall and the possibility of payments being reversed for months afterwards. The requirement to use real-life names for credit cards and PayPal also excludes unbanked people and those from countries with less developed financial infrastructure.

The WAVE system often written about in the press is, even if all their claims are true, not a quantum computer of a kind that could be used for cryptography. The risk of quantum computers is also there for financial institutions, like banks, because they heavily rely on cryptography when doing transactions.

No more so than the wastefulness of mining gold out of the ground, melting it down and shaping it into bars, and then putting it back underground again. Not to mention the building of big fancy buildings, the waste of energy printing and minting all the various fiat currencies, the transportation thereof in armored cars by no less than two security guards for each who could probably be doing something more productive, etc.

Thus, market forces are constantly pushing mining activity to places and times when the marginal price of electricity is low or zero. Using electricity in this way is a lot less wasteful than simply plugging a mining rig into the mains indiscriminately.

Market forces could even push mining into innovative solutions that have an effective electricity consumption of zero. Along similar lines, it could be argued that wind turbines are bad for the environment because making the steel structure consumes energy.

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(Source: finance.yahoo.com)

That device consumes about $40 per year in electricity (using U.S. residential average of about $0.15 per kWh.) The assumption is that bitcoins must be sold immediately to cover operating expenses.

Future volatility is expected to decrease, as the size and depth of the market grows. In the meantime, many merchants simply regularly pull the latest market rates from the exchanges and automatically update the prices on their websites.

Also, you might be able to buy a put option in order to sell at a fixed rate for a given amount of time. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and cash all serve as opportunities for criminals as well, but society keeps them around due to their recognized net benefit.

Hopefully Bitcoin will grow to the point where no single organization can disrupt the network, or would be better served by helping it. Terrorists fly aircraft into buildings, but the governments have not yet abolished consumer air travel.

Liberty Dollars started as a commercial venture to establish an alternative US currency, including physical banknotes and coins, backed by precious metals. They were prosecuted under counterfeiting laws because the silver coins allegedly resembled US currency.

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(Source: www.alvarsac.com)

Bitcoins do not resemble the currency of the US or of any other nation in any way, shape, or form. Of course, actually 'shutting down' Liberty Dollars was as easy as arresting the head of the company and seizing the offices and the precious metals used as backing.

The decentralized Bitcoin, with no leader, no servers, no office, and no tangible asset backing, does not have the same vulnerability. Since the release of Bitcoin v0.3, changes to the protocol have been minor and always in agreement with community consensus.

Protocol modifications, such as increasing the block award from 25 to 50 BTC, are not compatible with clients already running in the network. If the developers were to release a new client that the majority of miners perceives as corrupt, or in violation of the project’s aims, that client would simply not catch on, and the few users who do try to use it would find that their transactions get rejected by the network.

Because Bitcoins are algorithmically made scarce, no exponential benefit is derived from introducing new users to use of it. In the history of Bitcoin, there has never been an attack on the blockchain that resulted in stolen money from a confirmed output.

These functions have been peer reviewed by cryptography experts and are considered unlikely to be breakable in the foreseeable future. However, several major websites using the currency have been hacked, often resulting in high profile Bitcoin heists.

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(Source: insidebitcoins.com)

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