The US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has released a new guidance for those working in the executive branch of the United States Government. The document orders federal employees to report their digital asset holdings.
OGE stated that digital currency qualifies as “property held … for investment or the production of income” under the Ethics in Government Act as opposed to “real” currency. Therefore, government employees will now have to report their crypto holdings because they “may create a conflict of interest for employees who own it.”
OGE has joined a growing list of institutional bodies that do not consider digital tokens to be a mean of payment but treat them rather as a property. The Internal Revenue Service has adopted such stance back in 2014 for tax purposes, while the SEC and CFTC have their own well-documented issues with the status of digital assets. Having finally admitted that ethereum and bitcoin are not securities, the agencies are now looking into XRP.
The notice states that, “Filers report their holdings in a virtual currency if the value of the virtual currency holding exceeded $1,000 at the end of the reporting period or if the income produced by the virtual currency holding exceeded $200 during the reporting period. Filers are required to identify the name of the virtual currency and, if held through an exchange or platform, the exchange or platform on which it is held.“
The disclosure requirement is a major move as it will affect over 2 million employees working for the White House or the myriad of federal agencies. The document also discerns ICOs claiming that, “Further, the reporting and conflict of interest principles set forth herein apply equally to other digital assets, such as ‘coins’ or ‘tokens’ received in connection with initial coin offerings or issued or distributed using distributed ledger or blockchain technology.”
In addition to avoiding conflicts of interest, OGE claims the guidance was written due to the fact that numerous government employees have been “increasingly seeking guidance from their ethics officials concerning their financial disclosure reporting obligations.”
OGE has admitted that the guidance might need some updates and improvements further down the road as digital currency is a “relatively new and still evolving financial instrument whose final form and function may yet change.”
Some officials have already disclosed their crypto holdings following the guidance. Brent McIntosh, general counsel to the US Treasury Department, disclosed he owned bitcoin, valued between $1001 and $15,000, while Jessie Liu, US attorney for the District of Columbia, likewise disclosed BTC at between $1001 and $15,000.
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