The Internal Revenue Service, despite previous reports stating that the agency would take money but not give any back, will issue tax refunds during the current government shutdown. Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russel Vought, brought relief to the citizens of the nation when he announced to reporters that “tax refunds will go out.”
The previous plan was for the IRS to take in tax returns. However, refunds would not be given out until the government was fully functioning again. Lawmakers were feeling the pressure of filing season, with many receiving calls about when the government would be functioning again. Constituents were worried that their families would not receive refunds when they needed them, giving members of Congress a reason to find a speedy and efficient solution to the problem of government funding.
In the first week of the filing season of the previous year, around eighteen million Americans claimed $12.6 billion in refunds. The filing season of this year begins on January 28th. If President Trump’s rhetoric is true, then the shutdown may still be ongoing by then.
To Republicans, this is a positive event, as they can now continue to pressure Democrats in both the House and the Senate to find money for President Trump’s border wall. Some also believe that this will allow American citizens to see the effects of the current tax laws, something that the GOP has said they had a hard time doing. To Democrats, this is something that distracts the people from the fact that Republicans are holding the government hostage. According to Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, “It’s a band-aid to try to make people feel better about the fact that the government is not functioning.”
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When I first interviewed Joshua Smith, he was nothing but a great opportunity to put another face of libertarian activity on the site. Now, he may be the golden opportunity for the Libertarian Party to start making serious moves in the world and begin to actually bring liberty step forward.
Cryptocurrency is under attack. The state hates the subversive nature of it. The IRS recently went after Coinbase, forcing it to turn over plenty of customer information. A recent Senate bill created an IRS crackdown on finances, which included digital currencies. Some have even argued that this bill jeopardizes the privacy of cryptocurrency wallets in general. It is also a possibility that blockchain technologies have become another asset for government spying. This attack on one of the most powerful tools of liberty should be one that the Libertarian Party is at the forefront of challenging, but they are not.
This is just the icing on the cake for the status quo Libertarian Party. Granted, it has been “good,” and we have gained record registered voters for a third party, along with getting record LP votes in the 2016 election, but are people moving to us, or are we moving away from principle. It seems to be the latter. The party seems to be giving up on radicalism in favor of growing numbers, for Gary Johnson, one of the biggest exposures of libertarianism to the public sphere, decided he would support carbon taxes and not let businesses keep the right to discriminate. We’re in a bad place. We need to get back to what libertarianism is all about: radical uncompromising principled anti-statism.
Joshua Smith is a huge leap in that direction. His simples platform includes four points. These points start with an emphasis on enabling local leaders of the movement, giving them an avenue for actual activism and expansion in their communities and cities, which is something the movement really needs. This echoes Larry Sharpe’s advocacy for widespread local activism, which could be one of the only keys to actual LP success. This local mobilization could cause cascades of benefits to the liberty movement as a whole.
Smith’s second point was a principled reform focus. He wants to clean the party of its clutter. The libertarian socialists have no place in the movement and need to be ousted. They do not get to benefit from LP resources, so they should not be in the party. The principles of the party shall be reaffirmed and concretely defined. Joshua Smith will make this happen.
The third point is a focus on membership. As he told is his interview, he had a few issues his first go around with the LP when it came to getting active in the party and spreading the ideas that need to happen. He wishes to simplify and empower membership the LP, giving members new proper tools to spread liberty as soon as they have joined. “We can’t expect new members to be enthusiastic about spreading the ideals of liberty if we don’t act as though we’re happy to have them,” Smith states.
His final point was an emphasis on marketing. The party needs to be able to market itself better to the public. It needs to look appealing to join in, not like a mess with gross naked gingers dancing on stage. The marketing would focus both on member retention and party building, two things the party is definitely going to need in the coming future.
Since devising those points, and since my interview, he has put emphasis on fighting for cryptocurrencies, something that definitely needs to be done in this day and age. He has expressed interests in forming coalitions with big name cryptocurrency individuals and organizations, which would allow the LP to mobilize itself when it comes to defending the new technology from the hands of the state. This would put the voice of a large community of antistate and liberty-oriented people into action, which would be the beginning of a new political voice for the Libertarian Party.
Furthermore, Smith has expressed to me an interest in creating a new youth wing of the party. Young people like me have to be serious self-starters when it comes to activism. During the Hurricane Harvey disaster, my local Libertarian Youth Caucus was able to get active in relief, but most of the help came from the LYC higher-ups, and not the party itself. Libertarians across the board were mobilized in help, but I never saw the Party itself showing its face in this time of need. I am interested in seeing how Smith’s new youth wing would mesh with and integrate with the Libertarian Youth Caucus.
The Libertarian Party is giving up principles for the sake of party expansion, but you can have both. Smith’s election to LNC chair would turn this party around. These new focuses of activity could cause a real political change for the party and allow us to stand strong in the fight for cryptocurrencies. Enough playing games. Its time to start getting active.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of this article do not reflect that of 71 Republic LLC.
The IRS is ordering Coinbase to turn over the identities of 14,355 users of the popular cryptocurrency website.
A Northern District of California Court has ordered popular cryptocurrency website to turn over the name, birthdate, address, and account activity of any user who has been involved in a transaction worth more than $20,000 USD. This includes buying, selling, receiving, or sending.
The initial summons wanted Coinbase to turn over the information of all users who made a transaction at any time from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2015. The order reads: “It requested nine categories of documents including complete user profiles, know-your-customer due diligence, documents regarding third-party access, transaction logs, records of payments processed, correspondence between Coinbase andCoinbase users, account or invoice statements, records of payments, and exception record produced by Coinbase’s AML system.”
After eight months of fighting by Coinbase, the IRS requested that Coinbase only turn over the identification of users who made transactions equaling over $20,000. According to Coinbase, there were 8.9 million transactions that were over $20,000. Coinbase would refuse to comply.
In March 2017, the two parties would try to explore scenarios where Coinbase would comply with the IRS. This came to an unsuccessful end in July.
The court wrote, “Based upon an IRS search, only 800 to 900persons electronically filed a Form 8949 that included a property description that is ‘likely related to bitcoin’ in each of the years 2013 through 2015.”
According to Coinbase, they serve 5.9 million customers. This is obviously a move by the IRS to find those not paying the appropriate taxes. The IRS defines virtual currencies as property for tax purposes. This means that the capital gains tax would apply to them. More can be found here.
On November 28, the court would order Coinbase to turn over the Taxpayer ID Number, name, address, birthdate, and account records of anyone who made a transaction worth more than $20,000 from 2013 to 2015.
Coinbase Director of Communications wrote a blog post on the matter on November 29. He said, “We are pleased to say Coinbase won a partial victory in court today. Although the Court did not completely quash the government summons compelling disclosure of certain customers’ records from the period 2013–2015 as we requested, we were proud to accomplish two important victories for our customers.” He would later mention the two victories being the narrowing the scope of summons and the quantity of data to be released. He would also promise to keep their customers up to date on the matter.