House members urge US Treasury Secretary to clarify definition of broker in infrastructure law
A bipartisan group of members from the U.S. House of Representatives called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to clarify the language in the infrastructure bill signed into law in November around the definition of “broker.”
In a Wednesday letter, House Financial Services Committee ranking member Patrick McHenry and ten other representatives urged Yellen to reference the Keep Innovation in America Act to “ensure that any future guidance” in the November infrastructure bill would provide “the necessary clarity to the digital asset ecosystem.” In addition to the reporting requirements, the lawmakers said that the Treasury Department should narrow the scope of the information a broker can capture, as it would risk “the creation of an unlevel playing field for transactions in digital assets and those required to provide them.”
They urge her to provide additional clarity to America’s innovators and entrepreneurs.
— Financial Services GOP (@FinancialCmte) January 27, 2022
According to the House members, the current wording of the law would potentially allow the Treasury to interpret which companies and individuals in the crypto space qualify as a “broker,” creating a burden of reporting information to the government they may not necessarily have. This would seemingly require miners, software developers, transaction validators and node operators to report most digital asset transactions worth more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.
“As nascent financial technologies develop, we must ensure requirements imposed on the digital asset ecosystem are both crafted and implemented in such a way to ensure the United States remains at the forefront of financial innovation,” said the letter to Yellen. “We believe consistent information reporting on digital asset transactions is necessary. However, it should not prevent these technologies and the ecosystem from continuing to flourish due to unclear regulations that only create uncertainty.”
The appeal to the U.S. Treasury Secretary mirrors that of an December letter from six senators claiming the infrastructure law contains an “overly-broad interpretation” of what a broker is and requesting Yellen provide guidance to correct the perceived error. Senators Rob Portman, Cynthia Lummis, Mike Crapo, Pat Toomey, Mark Warner and Kyrsten Sinema urged Yellen to provide a set of rules clarifying the wording “in an expeditious manner.” Lummis and Senator Ron Wyden also attempted to pass legislation that would have changed the tax reporting requirements to “not apply to individuals developing blockchain technology and wallets” on Nov. 15 when the bill was signed into law by President Biden.
To date, none of the proposed measures clarifying the wording in the law have gotten enough support to enact change. Many lawmakers and crypto advocacy groups have expressed concerns that if the law is implemented as is, it could threaten the United States’ position as a nation encouraging the development of innovative technology.
“Our innovators and entrepreneurs can’t wait,” said McHenry. “Secretary Yellen must provide much-needed clarity so this nascent industry can flourish here in the U.S.”