Supposedly reputable technology news website ZDNet has fallen foul of the bitcoin community today, on the back of one of its reporters – Ken Hess – publishing an article that claims bitcoin is illegal. The article details Hess’ communications with United States Senator Tom Coburn, and includes the author’s interpretation of the senator in question’s statement.
Before reading on, it is worth mentioning that – in an attempt to avoid flattering Hess with clicks and page views – the bitcoin community are suggesting you take a look at the article at an external source. With this in mind, and for those of you looking to read the article in full, you can take a look at it here.
Here are some of the more salient points to give you a gist of what the article contains:
Earlier this year, I wrote to a dozen or so key Senators and Congressmen concerning the illegality of Bitcoin in the United States. What makes it illegal is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5 of the Constitution of the United States. Only the US Treasury can coin currency. If the US government doesn’t produce currency, it is illegal.
The IRS recently announced its ruling that cryptocurrencies will be taxed at capital gains rates rather than ordinary tax rates, so there is no longer ambiguity surrounding its tax treatment.
In terms of the Department of Treasury’s sole authority to produce currency, the definition of currency must be analyzed. Currency is legal tender recognized by the federal government. In other words, if the federal government does not disperse or remit cryptocurrencies, they are simply not legal currency.
I hope this letter clears up any ideological conflicts for Bitcoiners and cryptocurrency types. The so-called currencies are illegal under the Constitution and there is no defense otherwise. If you feel that Senator Coburn’s opinions on the issue are incorrect, then please feel free to write him.
As you can see, despite Hess’ claim that the U.S. Senator has declared bitcoin illegal, Coburn is distinctly vague in his response and does not really fall on either side of the question. For those of you wondering why I’ve highlighted the last six words of Hess’ closing statement – a number of Reddit users have rallied and decided to contact Coburn directly for some clarification. If you feel like doing so – click here.
Bad journalism, a valid argument or just plain nonsense? Let us know what you think…