Journalist Gets FOIA Request On Bitcoin From the IRS Five Years Later
The Internal Revenue Service has, in the past, been publicly criticized for being slow to create concrete laws regarding crypto. For years, crypto users didn’t know if they were to pay taxes on their income, what percentage of the income was to be taxed and how the taxes should be paid.
The matter got so dire that a congressman wrote an open letter in 2018 urging the IRS to do better, even as other countries were creating very comprehensive tax codes.
It would seem that this behavior isn’t only limited to the creation of tax codes for crypto. This comes after Jason Leopold, a senior investigative reporter at Buzzfeed News, revealed that he received a reply to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Bitcoin, five years after he initially asked for it.
Taking Their Time
This information was made public via a twitter thread started by Leopold in April 2, 2019.
This is what #FOIA torture is like.
After 5 yrs IRS finally produced records responsive to my request. They sent me a CD with the files. But I cannot access them!
They said they are going to mail me a separate letter BY MAIL containing the password!! pic.twitter.com/uJtfNWckm0
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) April 1, 2019
In the thread, he stated that he first asked for the FOIA five years ago but only just got a response, which wasn’t even complete and was sent in two parts. The first part arrived on April 1, 2019 In form of a CD with the Information stored on it as an encrypted executable file. An accompanying letter informed him that the CD contained information regarding the IRS’s Virtual Currency Guidance in its Internal Revenue Bulletin 2014-16 and other records relating to the Internal Revenue Notice 2014-21.
The problem was that the information could only be accessed using a password, which was not included in the letter but came a Day later in form of a another letter. Even then, the information given was not complete as it was stated that the original documents were 1,151 pages in number, 182 pages were not included because they were classified. This, apparently, isn’t an unusual practice as the IRS is known to omit some information when responding to FOIA requests from the public.
One of such instances was when a FOIA request dated April 29, 2018 was declined because it requested the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin.
This response was still very late even by federal standards as US Department of Justice guidelines stipulate that federal agencies should respond to FOIA requests within 20 days and not 5 years.