Cryptocurrency is a new technology that allows individuals to collect units of currency and transfer funds without the use of a central bank. While relatively new, there is no doubt cryptocurrency can be considered assets, as it holds value. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has recognized this in a new requirement for some federal employees.
On June 18, 2018, the OGE released a legal advisory stating that employees in the executive branch of the federal government must report any assets they have in cryptocurrency. This currency is usually in the form of tokens or coins. While it may be given a dollar value, the OGE does not recognize it as currency but rather as property. Owning such assets can create a conflict of interest, which is one reason executive branch federal employees are now required to report their holdings of the digital currency.
This requirement by the OGE follows regulations other federal bodies have instituted for cryptocurrency. In 2014 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) required that cryptocurrencies be claimed on tax returns.
Under the new requirements of the OGE, cryptocurrency must be reported if the amount of the currency exceeds $1,000 at the end of the reporting period, or if the currency amounts to more than $200 during the reporting period. If an exchange or platform is used to hold the cryptocurrency, the names of these must also be reported.
The federal employees affected by this new regulation are currently only those who work in the executive branch. This not only includes the President and Vice President, but also Cabinet members. In addition to these employees, over two million employees working for the White House and a number of other federal agencies will also now be required to report their cryptocurrency holdings.
The OGE also states another reason for the new regulation was that many federal employees have been inquiring how these holdings should be reported. In the legal advisory that was published, the government agency also noted that the new regulations may change in the future. This is because cryptocurrency is still fairly new and may be a financial instrument that could change over time.
The new regulation is considered a major move by the OGE. They may also not be the only ones to make it. Now with the OGE and IRS instating regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, it is likely that other government agencies will follow suit in the coming years.