The United States Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is stepping up its efforts in detecting cryptocurrency tax evasion and fraud with the launch of a dedicated program called ‘Operation Hidden Treasure’.
First reported by Forbes, the program was first revealed to the public last week by Damon Rowe, the tax agency’s Director of the Office of Fraud Enforcement when speaking at the Federal Bar Association’s virtual tax conference.
The program was launched as a joint effort between the IRS’s civil office of fraud enforcement and its criminal investigation units. The participating agents are trained in cryptocurrency and virtual currency tracking.
The primary goal of the program is to track the cryptocurrency incomes of American taxpayers who failed to report them for tax purposes.
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As Carolyn Schenck, National Fraud Counsel in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, explained, the agency is identifying tax evaders using various ‘tax evasion signatures’, one of which is ‘structuring’ with which taxpayers structure their transactions of less than $10,000 to avoid certain tax obligations. The agency is also working with third-party vendors to identify and investigate these tax evasion signatures.
As a part of the initiative, the IRS agents are reportedly being trained alongside the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol).
Taxing Crypto: Tough, but Necessary
Though taxing cryptocurrencies remain very hard on the part of the tax agencies, it became efficient over the years with the use of sophisticated technologies. To date, tens of thousands of US taxpayers received notices and warnings from the IRS for not reporting their crypto incomes. Though not officially admitted, details of these tax evaders were obtained from the Coinbase database.
Most recently, the IRS clarifies that the crypto investors buying cryptocurrencies with fiat need not have to declare their investments in Form 1040, but those incomes will be taxed under the standard capital gains structure.