Shearman & Sterling LLP | FinTech Insights | Congressman Emmer Proposes Legislation in Support of Blockchain Technology and Digital Assets
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  • Congressman Emmer Proposes Legislation in Support of Blockchain Technology and Digital Assets
    09/26/2018
    Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer, one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, last week announced plans to introduce three bills designed to support blockchain technology and digital assets.  The legislation would call for the U.S. to prioritize the growth and development of blockchain technology and digital assets, exempt blockchain entities that never take control of consumer funds from certain registration and licensure requirements and provide a safe harbor for taxpayers with forked digital assets.

    The three bills are:

    Resolution Expressing Support for Digital Currencies and Blockchain Technology

    The resolution calls for the U.S. to prioritize the growth and development of blockchain technology in a manner that balances consumer protection with innovation.  It also expresses support for an environment that would enable the private sector to take the lead on blockchain innovation and where federal agencies would work to coordinate their efforts in respect of these technologies.  Further, it also calls for the avoidance of undue restrictions on blockchain networks and a consistent and light regulatory touch, similar to the government’s regulation of the internet.

    Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act

    The Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act would exempt blockchain developers and blockchain service providers that never take control of consumer funds (i.e. miners and multisignature providers) from federal requirements to register and gain licensure as money transmitters, money service businesses or financial institutions.

    Safe Harbor for Tax-payers with Forked Assets Act of 2018

    The Safe Harbor for Tax-payers with Forked Assets Act of 2018 would provide a temporary safe harbor from fines and penalties for taxpayers that fail to (or have failed to) report or pay taxes on forked digital assets until the Internal Revenue Service provides regulations or guidance prescribing how they should be reported. 

    Comment

    While it is too early to determine whether these bills would gain traction in Congress as proposed, the proposals signal that some lawmakers are pushing for greater regulatory clarity in respect of blockchain technology and digital assets.  We will continue to provide updates on these and other pieces of legislation related to the FinTech industry going forward.