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US Executive Branch Officials Required To Disclose Crypto Holdings

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The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has issued a legal advisory urging employees of the executive branch of the U.S. government to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings.

OGE advised that filers must report their holdings in a virtual currency if its value exceeded $1,000 at the end of the reporting period or if the income produced by the virtual currency holding exceeded $200.

Filers are required to identify the name of the virtual currency and the exchange or platform on which it is held.

OGE made it clear that virtual currency is "property held for investment or the production of income" for purposes of public and confidential financial disclosure, and that it does not consider virtual currency a "real" currency or legal tender.

Executive branch employees are therefore required to report their holdings of virtual currency on their public or confidential financial disclosure report, OGE said in the legal advisory dated June 18.

The new order makes it mandatory for US officials working for the White House as well as a number of federal agencies to reveal their assets in cryptocurrency.

Also, the reporting and conflict of interest principles set forth in the legal advisory makes it applicable to other digital assets such as "coins" or "tokens" received in connection with initial coin offerings or through distributed ledger or blockchain technology.

OGE said it issued the legal advisory as employees who hold virtual currencies are increasingly seeking guidance from their ethics officials concerning their financial disclosure reporting obligations. The executive branch watchdog added that it may issue further guidance "as the nature of virtual currency becomes better defined".

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats virtual currency as property, and not as real currency, for U.S. federal tax purposes.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) views certain virtual currency as a commodity and involving a commodity derivative contract in specific situations.

Officials at both the CFTC and the SEC recently noted that many digital assets, including virtual currencies, are being promoted as investment assets.

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