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Kraken Fights IRS Request, Claims Overreach and Argues Customer Protection

In 2021, Kraken had seemingly received a summons from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but the exchange did not conform with the order. The IRS now intends to look into the tax liabilities of customers who used the platform to transact in cryptocurrencies between 2016 and 2020. Previously Kraken and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) had reached settlement on SEC allegations of securities law violations connected to Krakens staking service.

The cryptocurrency exchange must now provide the IRS with access to account and transaction data under an injunction issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The IRS claimed that it required the data to identify any Kraken users who may have underreported their taxes.

In accordance with the decree, Kraken must divulge details regarding customers who transacted more over $20,000 in a single calendar year. This data consists of genuine or made-up names, birthdates, taxpayer identification numbers, addresses, contact details (phone and email), and other relevant data.

However, it appears that Kraken made every effort to protect its clients from the reach of the law. Crypto News outlet CryptoSlate claimed it had information on the matter and according to a statement obtained by the outlet Kraken said “We fought the IRS because they sought intrusive and unnecessary information about U.S. clients… Were this information leaked by the IRS, it would expose Kraken clients to identity theft and other harm, which Kraken prevented.”

Users who transacted in cryptocurrencies beyond predetermined thresholds and during predetermined times were required to give Kraken their names and other identifying information. The Court, however, denied the IRS request for more Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) information, including job details, net worth, and wealth source.

The Kraken representative thanked the Court for rejecting many of the IRS’s demands since they thought the IRS’s first demands were too broad. Citing its successful defense in this case, the exchange emphasized its dedication to consumer security and privacy and pledged to constantly speak out for its clients.

Judge Joseph C. Spero said in the June 30th order “The Government has a legitimate purpose for seeking the materials described in the summon. As discussed above, the summons was issued in connection with an investigation by the IRS to determine the identity and correct federal income tax liability of U.S. persons who conducted transactions in cryptocurrency during the period 2016-2020.”

The actions by both the SEC and the IRS are in line with what many see as an attack on the crypto industry in the United States. Many influential figures such as Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse have vowed to leave the US if the anti-crypto climate persists. Countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom have all been much more crypto friendly and try to position themselves as crypto hubs.

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