Crypto & The Infrastructure Bill — Fact Sheet
Many in the crypto community, including a16z, have been advocating for an infrastructure bill that encourages innovation. One thing this debate has suffered from is disagreement on the facts related to crypto systems. We’re sharing some facts to help educate more people about this nascent but growing technology.
- The key issue is the definition of “brokers” in the tax code. Under the tax code, brokers are generally required to collect detailed information on their customers, enabling them to issue 1099 tax returns. The new infrastructure bill, in an attempt to give the IRS broad authority to require the reporting of information on cryptocurrency transactions, broadens the definition of broker to include “any person who (for consideration) is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person.” The debate that has played out over the past two weeks concerns this definition, with the Wyden-Lummis-Toomey amendment making it explicit that validators and software developers are not “brokers.”
- By trying to keep the definition of “brokers” broad, other amendments pick technology winners and losers. Some of the proposed fixes have specifically exempted blockchain validators using proof-of-work (the technology that powers Bitcoin) and sometimes proof-of-stake (another common consensus mechanism). There are many consensus mechanisms beyond these two. The point of consensus mechanisms is that they create incentives for communities to come together and build mutual trust. Congress should not be in the business of choosing which forms of trust (which technologies) require stakeholders to gather information and issue tax returns, and which forms are exempted from this requirement. Doing so stifles experimentation with a new, participatory, and decentralized alternative to our current centralized tech system.
- Software developers should not be considered “brokers.” Aside from the issue of validators, the “broker” definition potentially captures individual software developers who are in the business of creating platforms on which people share NFTs such as digital art and game collectibles. Deploying code and getting paid to do so should not make you liable for providing tax returns to the people who use your platform.
- Crypto is not a monolith, and much of the emerging technology is non-financial. The definition of “brokers” ignores the fact that much (and soon, most) of the crypto world is not about people trading financial instruments. To take just a few examples: massively popular games, trading platforms for digital art, and low-bandwidth wireless networks are deploying blockchain technology and have very little to do with tax evasion or capital gains. Requiring the teams behind these exciting new projects to collect detailed information on their users and provide tax returns as if they were brokers of financial instruments would stifle innovation.
The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements; a16z has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.
This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at https://a16z.com/investments/.
Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.