A U.S. federal court has granted authorization to the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, to serve a John Doe summons to fintech firm Circle seeking all information on U.S. taxpayers who traded at least $20,000 worth of crypto assets on its platforms between 2016 and 2020.
The summons will apply to Circle Internet Financial Inc. including all “predecessors, subsidiaries, divisions, and affiliates, including Poloniex LLC.”
According to the Department of Justice’s announcement, Judge Richard Stearns concluded there is “reasonable basis for believing that cryptocurrency users may have failed to comply with federal tax laws.”
The document also notes the IRS “does not allege that Circle has engaged in any wrongdoing in connection with its digital currency exchange business,” adding:
“The summons seeks information related to the IRS’s ‘investigation of an ascertainable group or class of persons’ that the IRS has reasonable basis to believe ‘may have failed to comply with any provision of any internal revenue laws.’”
A Circle representative told Law360: “We’re reviewing [the summons], and of course expect to work collaboratively with the IRS in responding to the court order.”
Attorney General David Hubbert of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division said: “Those who transact with cryptocurrency must meet their tax obligations like any other taxpayer. The Department of Justice will continue to work with the IRS to ensure that cryptocurrency owners are paying their fair share of taxes.”
Circle was founded in October 2013 by Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville, with the company launching a Bitcoin wallet the following year that later became its crypto payments application, Circle Pay. In 2018, Circle launched USD Coin in partnership with Coinbase, which is now the second-largest stablecoin by market cap.
Circle purchased the popular digital asset exchange Poloniex in 2018, but announced Poloniex would “spin out” into a new company backed by an investment group with ties to Tron’s Justin Sun the following year.