Coinbase Loses Bid to Block U.S. Tax Probe of Bitcoin Gains

Coinbase Inc. lost a bid to block an Internal Revenue Service investigation into whether some of the company’s customers haven’t reported their cryptocurrency gains.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Francisco ruled that the tax agency’s demand for information isn’t overly intrusive. The price of bitcoin has been soaring and crossed $10,000 Tuesday.

With just 800 to 900 taxpayers reporting bitcoin gains from 2013 through 2015 in a period when more than 14,000 Coinbase users have either bought, sold, sent or received at least $20,000 worth of bitcoin, “many Coinbase users may not be reporting their bitcoin gains,” she wrote. “The IRS has a legitimate interest in investigating these taxpayers.”

The company, one of the world’s largest virtual currency exchanges, has been sparring since last year with the IRS over its summons — and continued to resist turning over the information even after the agency scaled back its request in July. Coinbase and industry trade groups contend the government’s concerns about tax fraud are unfounded and that its sweeping demand for information is a threat to privacy.

The company said it’s glad that the government and the court narrowed the scope of the summons.

“Coinbase started this process more than 12 months ago, and while today’s result is not the complete victory we hoped for, it does represent a substantial and unprecedented victory for the industry and the hundreds of thousands of customers that would have been unfairly targeted if it weren’t for our action,” the company said in a statement posted on its blog…

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