On February 8, 2017, the White House announced President Trump's intention to nominate Beverly Hills tax attorney Charles P. Rettig to be commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Since the 48th IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, stepped down in November 2017, David Kautter, the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy, has served as acting commissioner of the nation's tax agency.
Rettig is an experienced tax professional, but I won't bore you with his extensive qualifications. Suffice it to say that he's been in practice for more than 35 years and he boasts a collection of professional honors. But what really matters to cryptocurrency enthusiasts is this: what has Rettig said about taxing digital assets?
Unfortunately, not much.
On October 24, 2017, at a thrilling event called the 33rd Annual Tax Controversy Institute Conference, Rettig briefly chimed in on cryptocurrency. He simply observed, "Many of this year's tax controversy presentations are current and ripped from the headlines – data breach and identity theft, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, and the cannabis industry."
It's difficult to surmise just how much – or how little – Rettig knows about cryptocurrency. He has not yet replied to a request for comment.
However, one week from today, one of Rettig's colleagues, Steven Toscher will host a Strafford webinar entitled "New IRS Scrutiny of Cryptocurrency Reporting: Filing Requirements and Exchange Treatment."
An announcement for the event explains, "The panel will provide tax counsel, accountants and other advisers with a critical look at new IRS initiatives on taxpayer compliance and reporting obligations for cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) transactions. The panel will discuss the IRS position on cryptocurrency as property rather than cash, analyze IRS monitoring to increase compliance, possible IRS examinations and criminal investigations and prosecutions for failing to properly report cryptocurrency transactions and define proper reporting and tax treatment for 'mining' and exchanging cryptocurrency."
Certainly keep an eye on this discussion, as it may offer some insight into the nominee's thinking.