Collection of Cryptocurrency Customer-Information: Tax Enforcement Mechanism or Invasion of Privacy?

By: Austin Elliott

After granting permission to the Internal Revenue Service to serve a digital exchange company a summons for user information, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California created some uncertainty regarding the privacy of cryptocurrencies. The IRS views this information gathering as necessary for monitoring compliance with Notice 2014-21, which classifies cryptocurrencies as property for tax purposes. Cryptocurrency users, however, view the attempt for information as an infringement on their privacy rights and are seeking legal protection.

This Issue Brief investigates the future tax implications of Notice 2014-21 and considers possible routes the cryptocurrency market can take to avoid the burden of capital gains taxes. Further, this Issue Brief attempts to uncover the validity of the privacy claims made against the customer information summons and will recommend alternative actions for the IRS to take regardless of whether it succeeds in obtaining the information.
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Cite: 16 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 1

SEC Reporting Requirements for Publicly Traded Companies Should Not be Expanded Despite Advancements in Information Technology

By: Lindsey Kell

Advancements in information technology allow information to be collected and analyzed quickly within a corporation. As a result, technology also allows the quicker release of information to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)—much quicker than the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q releases that are currently required for publicly traded companies. Although publicly traded companies must also disclose certain significant events in Form 8-K, the reporting requirements for publicly traded companies are not nearly as expansive as they could be considering the easy access these companies have to their business information. Even with this in mind, the SEC is well into a reevaluation of Regulation S-K primarily because requirements have accreted over time to become not just burdensome to companies but also blinding to investors who are overwhelmed by the volume of disclosure thrown at them. This paper expounds on these arguments and posits additional arguments for why the SEC should not expand reporting requirements for publicly traded companies. Specifically, expanded requirements are associated with high compliance costs; market forces already induce higher-quality disclosures; the more information companies file with the SEC, the more advantages they give to their competitors; and both the liability concerns and the doctrinal issues already associated with the current requirements will be exacerbated with an expansion of the requirements.

The Frontiers of Peer-to-Peer Lending: Thinking About a New Regulatory Approach

By: William S. Warren

The growth of online alternative lending presents several advantages for both those seeking credit and those with excess capital to lend. Over the past decade, several different models of peer-to-peer lending have emerged in the US and U.K. Each of these models has developed in response to the different regulatory system it faces, which has led to the models’ different risk and reward profiles. However, the current regulatory framework for regulating peer-to-peer lending, especially in the U.S., leaves much to be desired. The inadequate regulatory regime not only hampers the potential for growth and further innovation in the industry, but also creates risks for consumers, lenders, and, as the sector grows, entire markets. There is no clear or easy answer as to the optimal regulatory regime, but regulators should at least consider the basic functions of peer-to-peer lending and how to address risks with a more comprehensive and sensible model for regulation.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 298

Informational Inequality: How High Frequency Traders Use Premier Access to Information to Prey on Institutional Investors

By: Jacob Adrian

In recent months, Wall Street has been whipped into a frenzy following the March 31st release of Michael Lewis’ book “Flash Boys.” In the book, Lewis characterizes the stock market as being rigged, which has institutional investors and outside observers alike demanding some sort of SEC action. The vast majority of this criticism is aimed at high-frequency traders, who use complex computer algorithms to execute trades several times faster than the blink of an eye. One of the many complaints against high-frequency traders is over parasitic trading practices, such as front-running. Front-running, in the era of high-frequency trading, is best defined as using the knowledge of a large impending trade to take a favorable position in the market before that trade is executed. Put simply, these traders are able to jump in front of a trade before it can be completed. This Note explains how high-frequency traders are able to front-run trades using superior access to information, and examines several proposed SEC responses.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 256

The Evolution of Giving: Considerations for Regulation of Cryptocurrency Donation Deductions

By: Ashley Pittman

This Issue Brief looks at the rapidly growing area of cryptocurrency donations to nonprofit organizations. Given the recent IRS guidance issued on taxation of Bitcoin, specifically its decision to treat cryptocurrencies as property, questions now arise as to how charitable contributions of the coins will be valued for tax deductions. Though Bitcoin resembles most other capital gain property, its volatility, general decline in value, anonymity, and potential for abuse require specific guidance on valuation and substantiation so as to handle its unique nature and prevent larger deductions for charitable contributions than those to which taxpayers are entitled.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 48

Periodic Reporting in a Continuous World: The Correlating Evolution of Technology and Financial Reporting

By: Daniel C. Rowe

The evolution of technology has drastically altered what it means to be a reporting company in the eyes of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Technological development has also played a large role in the shifting trend from periodic reporting to continuous reporting, as is particularly apparent in the evolution of the Form 8-K. It is true that the increasingly technological world of continuous reporting does not come without disadvantages. This issue brief, however, argues that despite the increased risks and challenges of continuous reporting, its net effect on disclosure, and the investing community generally, is positive. With that benefit in mind, this paper further suggests four new amendments to the Form 8-K.

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Cite: 13 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 248