The legality of crypto is an important issue for all investors, and digital security concerns are also a concern for many. Investing in crypto can be a lucrative opportunity, but you must understand the risks and potential consequences before jumping in. Here are some tips to help you navigate the landscape:
Is Crypto Legal?
Cryptocurrency is a relatively new technology, and laws around the world vary widely. Some governments make it illegal for individuals to use cryptocurrencies, while others allow them with restrictions on how they are used. In some jurisdictions, such as the United States, a crypto exchange or developer needs to be regulated by a government agency.
How Does Cryptocurrency Become Illegal?
If a cryptocurrency is used for illegal purposes, such as money laundering or drug trafficking, it can be a criminal offense. For example, Silk Road was a dark-web marketplace for drugs and other illicit goods that used cryptocurrencies as the means of payment. The site was shut down by the FBI in 2013, and its founder Ross Ulbricht was convicted of multiple crimes.
Taxes on Cryptocurrencies: How Much Are You Paying?
The IRS considers cryptocurrencies to be property, and they are subject to capital gains taxes when they are sold. However, buying and holding a cryptocurrency is not taxable. You may not even be required to pay tax if you buy it for less than its value and hold it for a long period of time.
How Does Cryptocurrency Meet the Howey Test?
Whether or not a crypto meets the Howey Test is up to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC determines whether or not a cryptocurrency is a security by looking at four factors: ownership, investment contract, profit and risk. If all of these requirements are met, the asset is considered a security.
Federally Licensed Exchanges: The SEC regulates exchanges of traditional currencies, and a crypto exchange must comply with those regulations. They must also register as a Money Services Business. If a crypto exchange sells a digital currency or transfers it from one user to another, it must get a license.
In some states, a crypto exchange must register as a money transmitter, though not necessarily with the state government. The Colorado Division of Banking, for instance, defines money transmitter as any person or entity that accepts virtual currency as an escrow-like intermediary in a transaction that involves cash.
According to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, a crypto exchange must obtain a money transmitter license if it sells virtual currency for cash or if it transfers a digital currency from one user to another. It also requires a license if it offers stablecoins.
While the regulatory framework varies from state to state, there are a few things that all states have in common. For example, centralized exchanges are regulated by the FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). This agency also monitors and enforces the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires exchanges to verify the identity of all users. The SEC has also said that a crypto exchange must register with the FinCEN if they do business in the U.S. This includes all of the exchanges that handle a lot of transactions. In addition, the SEC says that exchanges must have their own internal policies and procedures for preventing money laundering.