Wyoming is best known for its successful fossil fuel industries such as coal, oil, and gas. But the cowboy state has been looking to diversify its portfolio by welcoming businesses dealing in digital assets. In 2019, Wyoming state lawmakers created a special charter designed to attract cryptocurrency platforms.

The charter allows banks to facilitate cryptocurrency trading by its customers. For customers, this means seamlessly converting your Bitcoin to cash, without the traditional middleman. This will result in lower transaction costs for users, one of the largest costs associated with cryptocurrency trading. For banks, this means having the ability to hold bitcoin “keys” for bitcoin owners. Moreover, Wyoming laws enacted in 2018 and 2019 cemented the treatment of digital assets in commercial law, setting businesses up to create “smart contracts” under safe conditions. This law also allows cryptocurrency institutions to establish as “special-purpose depository institutions,” allowing them to handle, process, and store dollars and digital currencies throughout the United States.

Lawmakers also made it easier for out-of-state investors to create Wyoming limited liability corporations to invest cryptocurrencies thorough. This allows investors to take advantage of favorable Wyoming laws, without being present in the state.

Wyoming law in this field has been developing at a rapid pace compared to similarly situated states and federal lawmakers. Wyoming legislators have faced backlash from federal agencies, that have been forced to reconsider their own crypto-related laws because of Wyoming’s new legislative regime. The backlash largely stems from a 1978 Supreme Court case, Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha, where the Court held that banks only need to follow interest rate caps of the state they are chartered within. Put simply, this means that Wyoming’s low interest rate cap effects the other 49 states.

Results

Wyoming’s push to become the cryptocurrency capital of the United States seems to have paid off in some regards. Two major cryptocurrency companies have partially began operating out of the state: Ripple, with a valuation of over $10 billion, and Kraken, with a valuation of $4 billion. Whether these benefits will trickle down to Wyoming state citizens is another story. Because these crypto companies are largely untaxed, the strategy may take years to payoff.

Wyoming’s strategy has been to undercut competing states by offering tax cuts and unrestrictive regulation. This is not a new strategy, South Dakota utilized the same strategy in the 1980’s to incentivize credit card companies to move to the state. Delaware has long welcomed corporations to the state by cutting corporate tax rates.

More Information

For more information relating to cryptocurrency law, including crypto-related crimes, contact Miami criminal defense Ralph Behr.

In October 2021, the United States Department of Justice created a specialized task force to investigate crimes related to cryptocurrency. The task force, known as the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) will handle all crimes committed using virtual currency exchanges, mixing services, and laundering services. This team is the next step in the United States battle against digital criminals utilizing unregulated digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies are implicated in a wide variety of criminal activities, such as electricity theft during the mining phase, tax evasion, fraud and theft, money laundering, the sale of illegal goods, and more. Last month, the treasury department issued sanctions against a cryptocurrency exchange for the first time, after the exchange failed to meet minimum standards against ransomware attacks.

The DoJ states the NCET will be made up of blockchain and cryptocurrency experts charged with aiding the Justice Department in investigating and charging digital criminals. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated NCET would build upon “the Department’s cyber and money laundering expertise to strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish, and quite frankly to profit, from abusing cryptocurrency platforms.”

What does this Change?

The NCET was created to “assist in tracing and recovering assets lost to fraud and extortion, including cryptocurrency payments to ransomware groups,” and to investigate and pursue its own cases involving crypto-related criminal activity. This gives the task force broad jurisdiction to investigate many cases. However, cases of this type have been notoriously difficult for the Department of Justice to prosecute, and it is unclear what techniques the NCET will utilize to increase convictions. Users should expect an uptick in crypto-related prosecutions while NCET establishes itself.

During its early days, cryptocurrencies were largely unregulated and unsupervised by the U.S. government. The induction of the NCET likely signifies the end of cryptocurrency’s “wild west” era. This means that those active in the cryptocurrency industry will need to ensure their services meet relevant trading standards and practices. Cryptocurrency firms should be ready to respond to NCET demands for information.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are often associated with various criminal activities, such as fraud and theft. But there exists another less-reported crime, taking place in the mining phase. Bitcoin mining requires a significant source of power, and opportunistic miners have been stealing power to run their mining operations, profiting vast sums of money with relatively little overhead.

What is Crypto-Mining?

Cryptocurrency mining occurs when a person uses their computer to solve an immensely complex math problem. Put simply, miners are searching for unique codes that will allow them to create new currency. This requires a lot of computer processing, which in turn requires significant energy.

How Bitcoin Miners are Stealing Power

Bitcoin mining power theft is usually done through two-methods.

The first method is to hijack someone else’s CPU, by inserting a script in their computer that takes control of the system’s main functions. Then, the hijacker can mine Bitcoin using the victim’s computer. Victims are often unaware this is taking place, and merely notice their computer fans turning on and CPU slowing. This hijacking can take place by simply visiting the wrong website. As the user browses the website, the site’s code runs Bitcoin mining code in the background. This type of mining theft operation often takes place at great scale, across hundreds of thousands of computers.

The second method is to simply hardwire a bitcoin mining computer into a power source which you do not pay for or have authority to utilize. While this is a more difficult method to scale, many criminals utilize this method, resulting in large amount of electricity stolen each year. In Malaysia, electricity theft for mining activity caused frequent power outages.

What is the United States Government Doing About it?

While both of the above Bitcoin mining schemes are illegal under existing US law, actually putting a stop to the activity is no easy task. Cryptocurrency miners will often band together, making them resilient to takedown operations. One method that seemingly had some mitigating effect was cryptocurrency authorities altering algorithms relating to mining activity, requiring illegal miners to alter their malware.

Electricity theft is a serious crime, with criminal and civil consequences. Victims stand to lose vast sums of money. Cryptocurrency mining related electricity theft even has negative consequences

The United States government has taken the traditional approach to combatting this issue: investigating and arresting select individuals. If you are one of the unlucky few individuals arrested because of a cryptocurrency mining-related electricity theft, prosecutors are likely interested in making an example out of your case. Contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in trial work to best protect your rights.

It’s no secret that the Miami real estate boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s was largely funded by cocaine smuggling criminals laundering their cash. But ever since, Miami and the rest of South Florida have been the ideal location to hide money in expensive real estate. This is a problem in any big city, but given the dynamic nature of an international-hub like Miami, laundered money is a particular problem.

There are plenty of high-profile cases pointing to the prevalence of money laundering in Miami real estate. The federal government seized a $5 million suite in the Porsche Design tower, a part of a greater money-laundering scheme worth over $1 billion. A former executive in Ecuador’s national oil company was sentenced to four years in prison after laundering money through six South Florida properties. In 2016, the notorious “Panama Papers” confirmed the Miami real estate market was plagued with laundered money.

How Exactly does Money Laundering in Real Estate Work?

Generally, criminals with illegal money use it to buy high-dollar real estate through anonymous shell companies. The shell companies, commonly headquartered in overseas countries with little regulation, are used to hide the identity of those involved. The Miami real estate market has relatively little oversight to combat such illicit behavior.

A lack of oversight coupled with high property prices creates the perfect environment for criminals looking to launder money in a tropical paradise. However, federal regulators are increasingly attempting to crack down on laundered money in real estate. Since 2016, prosecutions in this field have been on the rise. Aggressive federal investigations have made it harder for those looking to hide their money in Miami. Those facing money laundering charges in South Florida should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in money laundering matters.

The world of high-dollar art and antiques is associated with extraordinary prices paid in cash. For racketeers looking to launder money, this offers an ideal method to launder money. With art sales commonly topping $10 million, it’s hard to imagine a better industry to launder money.

Those charged with money laundering stemming from art sales face serious charges, and should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure their case receives the best results.

How do Criminals Launder Money in Artwork?

Some cases of money laundering in the art world are relatively simple to understand. Suppose a money launderer needs to launder $1 million dollars. They use that $1 million to buy a painting at auction, then anonymously resell the painting to a new buyer. After the resale, the money launderer has made income from a totally legitimate business dealing.

Other times, money laundering can be more complicated. First, consider the famous case of Jean Michel Basquiat’s Hannibal painting, worth about $8 million. Together, a convicted Brazilian money launderer and former banker attempted to smuggle the painting from Brazil to the United States, via the Netherlands. The pair fabricated shipping invoices, claiming the shipment, containing the multi-million-dollar painting, was worth $100. The painting was most likely on its way to the United States for sale, and the criminal duo was convicted of money laundering.

Next, consider terrorist entities such as ISIS. One of ISIS’s main sources of revenue is the sale of stolen artifacts. When artifacts are found, ISIS either steals them or buys them from the owner at a significantly discounted price. Through a series of middlemen, the artifacts make their way through several different countries on their way to the west. Eventually, the goods are stored in European warehouses where they await a buyer. The lack of documentation and any viable paper-trail mean this is an ideal system for criminal enterprises to launder money.

Regulating the Art Market

With pundits harshly critiquing the ease with which money is laundered in the art industry, lawmakers across the globe have been scrambling to introduce legislation to mitigate the practice. In Europe, the Anti-Money Laundering Directives (AMDL) were introduced to combat criminal practices in the art industry. The AMDL requires all transactions with a value equal to or over EUR 10,000 to be reported and verified.

In the United States, dealers of precious metals and jewelry are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports and comply with other Anti-Money Laundering obligations. Interestingly and somewhat inexplicably, art dealers are not bound by these same regulations. Outside of Europe, most of the world has little to no regulations combatting money laundering in the art industry. The introduction of stricter regulations is necessary to stifle money laundering in the art industry.

Attorney Ralph Behr and the Federal Sentencing Alliance have partnered with Interrogating Justice to demand Attorney General Merrick Garland order the Bureau of Prisons start awarding First Step Act time credits to incarcerated Americans who are entitled to them.

President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act in 2018, and shortly after, Congress authorized the BOP to begin implementing recidivism reduction programs and activities to incarcerated Americans. The Act further authorized the BOP to award time credits immediately. This meant that incarcerated citizens had the opportunity to begin earning time off their sentence for participating in various transitional justice programs.

Despite the BOP’s authority to award First Step Act time credits, it has chosen not to.

Since the Act’s implementation in 2018, the BOP has refused to act. The BOP has asserted they will not award any First Step Act time credits until January 15, 2022. For those incarcerated, this means they are able to earn enough time credits to be released but are stuck in prison until the BOP’s arbitrarily set Jan. 15, 2022 deadline. The BOP’s actions are capricious and unpredictable and represent a failure of the American incarceration system.

To make matters worse, federal courts have been largely complacent in allowing the BOP to take this position. Courts have held they lack jurisdiction until the First Step Act’s “phase-in” period has ended. But the United States Supreme Court has long held that incarcerated Americans have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in time credits. This means federal courts could exercise jurisdiction over lawsuits challenging the BOP’s implementation of the First Step Act.

Support Attorney Ralph Behr, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Interrogating Justice

Attorney Ralph Behr, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Interrogating Justice call upon Attorney General Merrick Garland to order the BOP to begin honoring First Step Act good time credits immediately. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and American citizens can’t afford to wait until the BOP’s January 15, 2022 deadline.

Sign the petition to support Interrogating Justice, the Federal Sentencing Alliance, and Attorney Ralph Behr in their stand.

Late last week the People’s Bank of China stated in a press release, “virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities.” The Bank claimed that such virtual currencies endanger “the safety of people’s assets.” This means that overnight, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency markets forced millions of users to sell their digital currencies. In the wake of this announcement, the price of Bitcoin fell by over $2,000.

This is only the most recent move in what has been a series of regulations against Bitcoin and other digital currencies in China. The Chinese government sees cryptocurrency as an unsafe and vulnerable investment, as well as an easy way for criminals to launder their illegal earnings. Although crypto-trading has been illegal in China since 2019, trading was made possible using foreign exchange outlets.

But this year, China has been stamping down on cryptocurrency trading, tightening regulations and enforcing stricter compliance. In late May, the Chinese government informed traders that they would no longer be entitled to the traditional legal metrics of protection if they continued to trade. The following month, the government ordered all financial institutions to block all transactions involving cryptocurrencies.

Last week’s announcement is the harshest restriction yet, clearly evidencing the Chinese government’s intent to stamp out all crypto trading. activity within the country’s borders. The statement informed citizens that all digital trading was a crime, and that the State would soon begin prosecuting those in violation. Further, all foreign exchange outlets making trading possible to China are also in violation of Chinese law.

How Does this Affect U.S. Crypto Traders?

All US investors should hear this news and be concerned primarily with one thing: volatility. Last week, Bitcoin fell 4% within a 24-hour period, following the press release, while Ether fell over 6% in the same period. One of the main critiques of cryptocurrencies surrounds their volatility. Experts already warn users to exercise caution when trading cryptocurrency, due to the volatile nature of the transaction.

But there is a larger, overarching concern for US-based investors. If the US follows in China’s path and strikes down on cryptocurrency investing, trading will be turned on its head. The US government has been cracking down on cryptocurrencies more and more. The US government has begun viewing digital currencies as a burden to their regulation of currency management.

Cryptocurrency experts are warning of an incoming influx of regulations over the industry in the coming years. Even US lawmakers have chimed in on the debate. The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman stated that the SEC is working diligently to create new regulations for cryptocurrencies.

For US-based cryptocurrency investors, traders, and businesses, this means that the very existence of digital trading is shrouded by a legal uncertainty, which may not clear anytime soon. This means continued turbulence for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, until the storm settles.

Cryptocurrency has grown in popularity amongst investors, news outlets, and mainstream culture in recent years. Bitcoin, the first and most popular cryptocurrency reached a total market cap of over $1 trillion in early 2021.

Investors who held onto their Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies throughout the crypto boom saw increases to their net worth, and now boast large capital gains profits. Now, the question amongst many investors is how to pay taxes on their earnings. In particular, what if you convert your cryptocurrency into physical dollars, goods, or services?

For federal tax purposes, the IRS considers cryptocurrency to be “property.” With this classification, cryptocurrencies are treated as a capital asset. This means you pay cryptocurrency taxes as if you sold some sort of capital. For example, when you sell your house and have to pay taxes, the IRS considers the difference between the original purchase price of the house and the net sales proceeds.

When paying taxes on cryptocurrencies, the calculation is similar. Begin by considering the difference between the original purchase price and the sales price. But there is an important next step, taxes owed on cryptocurrencies are largely dependent on the length of time the investment was held. Depending on the length of time you held your cryptocurrency, your gains will be considered either short or long term, effecting the amount of taxes owed.

(1) “Short-Term” Capital Gains or Losses – If cryptocurrencies are bought and sold within a 365-day window, you are taxed under the short-term bracket. Short-term gains are taxed at the same rate as your typical income, including wages, salaries, and commissions. This means that depending on your total net income, you may owe anywhere from 10% to 37% of your total income.

(2) “Long-Term” Capital Gains or Losses – If cryptocurrencies are bought and sold after a year, the difference between the purchase and sales price is taxed based on long-term tax rates. In general, you will pay less taxes on a long-term gains than short-term. As of 2021, there are three tax brackets for long-term gains, which you fall in is dependent on your total net income: 0%, 15%, or 20%.

How to Reduce Cryptocurrency Taxes

Considering the above ways in which cryptocurrencies are taxed, there are a few strategies to mitigate the amount you may owe.

            First, consider holding your cryptocurrency for over a year, so short-term gains are turned into long-term gains. It may be tempting to sell quickly, but take the potential tax differences into account before deciding to let go of your currency.

            Second, consider selling your cryptocurrencies during a year when you made less than usual. Paying during low-income years ensures you stay in the lowest possible tax bracket.

Finally, consider moving to a state without income tax. While this post has focused predominantly on federal income tax, states also have an interest in your investment earnings. Luckily, select states offer no income tax or significantly lower income tax levels, including Florida, Wyoming, and Delaware.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency owners often find themselves in the precarious position of not knowing how to transfer their cryptocurrency into their bank account. Cryptocurrencies offer an exciting new financial frontier and investment opportunity, but what good is investment if you can’t withdraw your profits?

You cannot deposit their cryptocurrency directly into your bank account, yet. . . Instead, users will have to convert their cryptocurrency into dollars, then deposit the currency into their account. How this process is done depends on the platform you hold your cryptocurrency on.

Coinbase

Coinbase not only makes it easy to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, the platform makes transferring cryptocurrency into your bank account an ease. When you start using Coinbase, you can link your bank account. When you want to turn your cryptocurrency into dollars, sell the cryptocurrency for cash, then deposit the cash into your bank account. Usually, Coinbase transfers the money into your bank account within a couple of days.

Bitstamp

Bitstamp, unlike Coinbase, does not allow users to link their bank account. Instead, users enter their bank account information every time they want to make a transaction. Bitcoin owners can use the platform to convert their cryptocurrency into cash, then they can enter their bank account information to deposit their earnings.

What to Remember When Converting Cryptocurrencies into Cash

Hidden Fees

Customers need to be aware of hidden fees. Many banks charge a fee for incoming wire transfers. Cryptocurrency platforms often encourage wire transfers for large money transfers. Consult with your bank to understand any potential transfer fees you may incur. Almost all cryptocurrency platforms charge fees for each transfer, typically ranging from $2 to $50. Transfer fees have become a typical part of trading cryptocurrencies.

Taxes

Once cryptocurrency traders hit a payday, they often forget that any profit made is taxable income. In the United States, cryptocurrency profits are taxed as capital gains. How much you pay in taxes is dependent on the tax bracket you fall in with your regular income. If you are located outside of the United States, or are unsure of how cryptocurrencies are taxed, contact a local tax professional to understand your situation.

Conclusion

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a unique investing opportunity for users. It is currently impossible to deposit cryptocurrency directly into your bank account, so users will instead have to rely on cryptocurrency trading platforms to collect their earnings. While banks may someday offer the option for cryptocurrency direct deposit, a classic transfer will have to do for now. Cryptocurrency users should be aware of any taxes and hidden fees associated with trading.

In the past, sports betting has been outlawed in Florida. Sports fans and gamblers alike were unable to bet money on their favorite sports. Once a pipe dream, Florida residents may soon enjoy the ability to bet on sports at casinos and on their smart phones. In March 2021, Florida lawmakers began the process of joining the two-dozen states where sports betting is legal.

Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis allied with the Seminole tribe to push a new gambling deal that would allow the tribe, to facilitate sports betting in Florida. Shortly after, state lawmakers approved a deal between the state of Florida and the tribe approving a range of gambling activity, including sports betting.

The deal went further, permitting all Florida residents to gamble on their phone, even if they were not present on tribal land. Without this statewide stipulation, Florida residents may have been gambling on sports in Seminole tribal casinos months ago. In July, owners of the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, known as the pari-mutuels, filed suit to block the deal. Pari-mutuels claim in their lawsuit that allowing sports betting off tribal land is a violation of federal gambling law.

Allied together, the Seminole tribe and Governor DeSantis have responded to the suit with a series of arguments. They claim, among other things, that pari-mutuel has failed to show that they were injured as a result of the deal. The general rule is that to overcome standing requirements, a plaintiff must show a particularized injury which affected them in a real way. The courts do not deal with mere hypotheticals. This legal rule represents the crux of the court’s decision-making process, with each party argument’s painting different theories of damage.

On one hand, Governor DeSantis and the Seminole tribe argue that the plaintiff would actually see significant monetary benefit as a result of the deal’s passing. The team of attorneys assert that the plaintiffs would have marketing rights for Seminole tribe’s online gambling business, meaning they would earn the majority of profits relating to the online services.

Despite the U.S. Department of the Interior signing off on the Seminole tribe online sports gambling deal in August, Florida residents will have to wait for the federal court’s approval before they are able to sports gamble on their smartphones.

Contact Information