The Ethics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has issued a memorandum requiring all House Members to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings worth over $1,000, Bloomberg reported yesterday, June 20.
The memo, dated June 18, outlines a range of disclosure requirements for lawmakers, covering crypto holdings, participation in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), and any income earned from cryptocurrency mining.
Noting that while the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has determined some cryptocurrencies to be commodities – most notably, Bitcoin (BTC) – the Ethics Committee has nonetheless decided that “with respect to financial disclosure, cryptocurrencies will be treated as ‘other forms of securities.’”
House members are therefore required to disclose their own and their spouse’s holdings of cryptocurrencies valued at over $1,000 under “Assets and Unearned Income,” and purchases, sales or exchanges of crypto valued at over $1,000 under “Transactions” in their annual Financial Disclosure Statement.
Being considered as “other forms of securities” for disclosure purposes, crypto purchases, sales and exchanges that exceed $1,000 are further subject to Periodic Transaction Report filings, which must be submitted within 45 days of the transaction, according to the memorandum.
The memo explains that the Committee has based its decision on the current position adopted towards various cryptocurrencies by the CFTC and other U.S. regulators, including The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) indication that some cryptocurrencies will be regulated under securities laws, with The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advising that for federal tax purposes, it has decided to treat cryptocurrencies as property.
The Committee further stresses that because the SEC is still continuing to review its positions towards ICOs, any House Member who is “considering participating in an ICO is strongly encouraged to contact the Committee for guidance before doing so.”
As Bloomberg notes, House rules currently prohibit lawmakers from earning in excess of $28,050 a year from any source not related to their congressional work. The new memo clarifies that any payment in crypto, as well as profit derived from crypto mining, is subject to this limit, whereas crypto trading is not, as it’s considered a form of investment or unearned income.
The memo also indicates that House standards of conduct surrounding insider trading prohibitions will apply to cryptocurrencies “just as [to] any other type of financial holding.”
The same day the Ethics Committee memorandum was released, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued its own disclosure guidance to federal employees, requiring them to report any crypto holdings exceeding $1,000, as well as any income derived from crypto of over $200 within the financial disclosure reporting period.