Senate Fails to Amend Crypto Tax Provision in Infrastructure Bill

Inclusion of new language narrowing definition of a crypto broker does not pass ‘unanimous consent’ procedure.

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key takeaways

  • Crypto tax amendment was blocked after Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) tried to add unrelated provision to raise military spending
  • Senators Pat Toomey, Cynthia Lummis and Rob Portman joined forces with Democratic senators to agree on amendment earlier in the day

Despite bipartisan support of an amendment within the proposed infrastructure bill that would narrow the definition of a cryptocurrency “broker,” the Senate on Monday failed to pass its inclusion in the legislation. 

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), halted an attempt to vote on the revised language through “unanimous consent” — a procedure whereby all legislators are asked to approve rule changes and bills — as a way to get a vote on his amendment to raise military spending, the Washington Post reported.

Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) blocked Shelby’s attempt to add his amendment, and when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tried to advance the crypto provision without Shelby’s amendment, the Alabama legislator objected, according to the Washington Post.

The Senate is expected to vote on the infrastructure bill itself on Tuesday morning.

The vote came after advocates of the digital asset community came out against the crypto-related tax reporting requirements included in the proposed infrastructure deal, arguing that it put such obligations on players in the industry who have no way to comply.

Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined forces with Democratic Senators such as Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to agree on an amendment Monday that would exempt hardware wallet makers, cryptocurrency transaction validators, node operators and other non-brokers from tax regulations.

“I urge my colleagues to join us in enacting this bipartisan clarification,” Toomey said in a Twitter post before heading to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent. “Let’s get this done.”

Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, said in a statement that the failure to reach unanimous consent on the compromise jeopardizes US leadership in financial and technological innovation.

“Washington politics prevailed over common sense today,” she said. “…As written, the infrastructure bill contains harmful IRS reporting requirements that many in the crypto ecosystem lack the capabilities to comply with. As a result, many crypto players will be forced to move overseas, leaving future jobs and economic growth on the table.”

Smith added that the Blockchain Association and its 46 member organizations plan to engage with members of the House of Representatives to ensure that “the unclear and unworkable aspects” of the provision are removed.

“The good news is we’re not giving up,” Jerry Brito, executive director of crypto policy nonprofit Coin Center, tweeted after the Senate session. “Next stop is the House where we can try to get a whole new amendment from scratch that can address all our concerns.”

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