The IRS’s intensified crypto oversight and the path ahead


The landscape of cryptocurrency in the United States is on the cusp of a transformative phase as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prepares to enhance its oversight capabilities. This development, rooted in a 2022 Department of Justice (DOJ) report responding to President Biden’s Executive Order 14067, could mark a new era of increased scrutiny and asset seizures for crypto users.

The Executive Order, which initially sparked concerns about stringent regulations, primarily tasked agencies with creating reports to inform future crypto policies. The DOJ’s subsequent report laid out a comprehensive strategy to strengthen the government’s enforcement tools against crypto-related crimes, advocating for the U.S. to have expansive authority to seize cryptocurrencies connected to fraudulent activities. This move aims to deter illegal actions and ensure offenders are deprived of their illicit profits.

IRS Logo.
Internal Revenue Service Official Logo.

Historically, the FBI and IRS have already demonstrated significant success in asset seizures, having confiscated over $4 billion in cryptocurrencies between 2014 and 2021. Despite this, the DOJ report underscores the need for broader powers, citing past limitations in effectively tackling crypto crimes.

A particularly contentious aspect of the DOJ’s recommendations is the endorsement of administrative seizure. This process allows agencies, rather than judges, to decide on asset forfeiture, a practice that has constituted 78% of DOJ seizures over two decades. The DOJ argues that this method promotes efficient government resource allocation and reduces the burden on the federal judicial system.

The IRS’s plan to escalate crypto surveillance through a new information reporting initiative worth $8 billion brings the DOJ’s recommendations into sharper focus. Such surveillance could lead to an increase in the rate of cryptocurrency confiscations at an unprecedented scale.

The implications for the crypto community are significant. Users may soon navigate an environment of heightened scrutiny, where their transactions are closely monitored, and the threat of asset forfeiture is ever-present, even without judicial approval. This shift towards more aggressive oversight raises critical questions about the balance between deterring crime and upholding individual rights.

As the IRS moves forward with these changes, the crypto community must remain vigilant and informed. The delicate balance between fighting fraud and safeguarding personal freedoms will be tested, and the outcomes of this policy shift will resonate throughout the crypto world for years to come.