In brief

  • A federal court has authorized the Internal Revenue Service to access the personal data of some Kraken customers.
  • The tax officers want to identify users who transacted $20,000 or more in crypto between 2016 and 2020.

A federal court in the Northern District of California has given the green light to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain the identities of users who have traded digital assets on crypto exchange Kraken.

According to an announcement published by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, the IRS is now authorized to serve a “John Doe summons” on customers of Kraken and its parent company Payward Ventures Inc. Tax officers can request the identities of any user who transacted $20,000 or more in crypto between 2017 and 2020.

“Gathering the information in the summons approved today is an important step to ensure cryptocurrency owners are following the tax laws. Those who transact with cryptocurrency must meet their tax obligations like any other taxpayer,” said David Hubbert, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, in the announcement.

Hunting down crypto tax-dodgers

In its announcement, the DOJ clarified that the court order does not allege that Kraken itself engaged in any wrongdoing. Instead, the IRS’s investigation is focused on “an ascertainable group or class of persons” that “may have failed to comply with internal revenue laws.”

As such, the IRS requested that Kraken provide any documents and transaction records that can be used to identify tax-paying users from the aforementioned group.

“There is no excuse for taxpayers continuing to fail to report the income earned and taxes due from virtual currency transactions. This John Doe summons is part of our effort to uncover those who are trying to skirt reporting and avoid paying their fair share,” added the IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig.

The DOJ’s tax division filed the request to obtain Kraken customers’ data in early April. However, the judge initially denied it, arguing that the request was too broad. A few days prior, the court authorized the IRS to serve John Doe summons on users of crypto payments company Circle.