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Here’s what the IRS should know – Bitcoin is not just money

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The cryptocurrency industry has been developing at quite a fast pace and this has helped change the outlook of investors and governments around the world about crypto. Although it will be naive to say that the world has accepted crypto, many nations have been inching closer to embrace it, one step at a time. The United States has been one such country to allow technological advancement, yet has been pondering over the kind of regulations to be levied to keep crypto in check.

Among the agencies, looking strictly to maintain taxation in the country, was the Internal Revenu Service [IRS]. The IRS had been at the top of its game and recently released a Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. There were various changes made to the form proposed for the tax year 2020.

The IRS introduced a new cryptocurrency compliance measure for taxpayers last year in the form of a checkbox above Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments to Income. This was called out as a problem as taxpayers who did not need to file for Schedule 1 and often missed out on this question regarding cryptocurrencies. However, in the latest draft form, this question has been moved up.

However, this one question has raised the eyebrows of many crypto enthusiasts in the space and Justin Winston was one of them. A first amendment attorney by his declaration, Winston believes that the IRS’s requirement that people should declare all crypto “received, sold, sent, exchanged, or otherwise acquired” should be challenged. Calling it “way too broad”, Winston noted that the government should not know whether the individual “purchased, received, or acquired crypto because crypto is not just money.”

While the crypto-verse has been trying to establish the use case of crypto beyond money, especially that of Bitcoin, the mainstream has been stuck with the idea of crypto being just a replacement for physical cash. Bitcoins and other cryptos allowed for other uses, for example, Microsoft has been using Bitcoin’s blockchain for ID management. Similarly, an individual needed to hold BTC or other cryptos to utilize blockchains. Winston added:

“IRS asking US residents to declare all crypto is as inappropriate as asking citizens to declare all email addresses, social media handles, or data plans.”

Even though the latest form did not ask the taxpayers to declare their crypto holdings yet, it asked them to declare if they received or sold crypto within the past year, which was also considered “beyond the purview of information” for the agency to do its job.

Earlier in the month, four US congressmen in a letter addressed to the IRD commissioner Charles Rettig expressed concerns about its taxation policy. The four congressmen namely, Bill Foster [D] of Illinois, Darren Soto [D] of Florida, Tom Emmer [R] of Minnesota, and David Schweikert [R] of Arizona noted that the taxation of staking rewards as income may overstate taxpayers’ actual gains from participating in crypto, which is looked upon as new technology. This concern was along the lines of Winston’s concern. The space needed people who focused on the expressive and associational aspects of the decentralized networks and not just instinctively tax anything that came out of crypto, as it could stifle the growth of this nascent technology.

Source: https://eng.ambcrypto.com/heres-what-the-irs-should-know-bitcoin-is-more-than-just-money

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Hackers Demand 200 Bitcoin Ransomware After Compromising Leading Israeli Insurance Company’s Sensitive Data

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A notorious hackers’ group called The Black Shadow has compromised one of the largest insurance companies in Israel – Shirbit. The attackers have already released sensitive client documents and have demanded a ransom in bitcoin, which could rise to $4 million by the end of the week.

Israeli Insurance Company Hacked

According to a local media outlet, the first confirmation of the hack came on Monday evening. Representatives of The Black Shadow group posted an initial batch of compromised documents on a Telegram channel.

Shirbit had contacted the National Cyber Directorate and Capital Market Authority to open an investigation. Shortly after, the organizations confirmed the breach and indicated that the hackers have also leaked numerous insurance details, alongside the initial documents.

According to the report, Shirbit has many high-profile customers, including government employees. Company CEO Zvi Leibushor said that the safety of its clients is Shirbit’s top priority.

“Shirbit has invested millions of shekels in securing databases and protecting against cyber-attacks and meets all the stringent regulatory requirements in this area.” He added that the firm has invested “all resources and efforts needed for an effective safe and rapid solution to this cyber-attack, whose real goal is to try to harm the Israeli economy.”

Demand Requested In Bitcoin

After releasing a small part of the compromised documents, The Black Shadow reps have contacted the victims to request 50 bitcoins (about $960,000 with today’s prices).

However, in case Shirbit failed to pay the attackers within the first 24 hours, the demand would double to 100 bitcoins. The procedure will repeat and double to 200 bitcoins if another 24 hours pass without payment.

Furthermore, the hackers threatened the insurance company that if it fails to transfer the funds by the end of this week, they will sell all compromised data to other bidders.

It’s worth noting that numerous other Israeli companies and high-profile individuals have recently become victims of similar hacks and demands.

CryptoPotato recently reported that 20 Israeli crypto executives, all clients of the local telecommunications giant Partner, were hacked by stealing their SMS messages.

Another coverage informed that a new type of ransomware attacked called Pay2Key has been executed against several Israeli companies in the second part of 2020. The perpetrators had requested the demand in bitcoins, similarly to the Shirbit hack.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/hackers-demand-200-bitcoin-ransomware-after-compromising-leading-israeli-insurance-companys-sensitive-data/

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Bitcoin Price to Hit $36,000 in 2021: Kraken Crypto Sentiment Survey

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From what happened in the last couple of weeks, it appears that the crypto bull market is upon us. Bitcoin has been consistent with its volatility-induced rallies, and this is infusing confidence in investors.

So much, so that VIP clients in Kraken’s latest Crypto Sentiment Survey say that BTC will skyrocket to about $36,000 in 2021. They also feel that ETH could revisit its previous highs of $1500.

Bitcoin And ETH To Trade At Average Prices Of $15K and $549 By 2020 End

The latest Kraken Crypto Sentiment Survey covers investor sentiment for the second half of 2020. The exchange had already conducted a similar survey back in March this year. But then investors were way more optimistic about BTC and ETH price growth by December.

Now, the same respondents have retracted their bullish calls for bitcoin and ether (ETH) this year. According to the latest numbers,

The average bitcoin price target among 309 responses fell -35% surveyover-survey to $14,866, well below February’s average of $22,866. The median price target also retraced -28% from $19,424 to $14,000, and the most commonly cited price target was $15,000, down -25% from $20,000.

With respect to ether (ETH), the average price target among 289 responses was $549, off -32% from the previous survey’s average of $810. The median price target was unchanged at $500 and the most frequently cited price target was $500, up +66% from $300.

At 72 percent, traders and investors (down from 81 percent when the survey was conducted in March) comprised a majority of the survey responses. 18 percent of responses came from Institutions (broker, custodian, family office, hedge fund, lender, market maker, private equity firm, proprietary trading firm, or venture capitalist).

And the rest 4 percent – from crypto service providers (ATM, exchange, lender, payment processor) and miners. As compared to March, the researchers at Kraken anticipated a lower price growth optimism from the said respondents since the year is so close to its end.

The Outlook For 2021 Remains Super Bullish

When asked about how they see bitcoin and ether prices in the next year, respondents didn’t shy away from expressing their mega bullish calls. Survey participants called for an average bitcoin price target of $36,602 in 2021. Some put the median bitcoin price target at $25,000, but a lot of folks (approximately 61 percent) felt if not anything else, BTC will at least hit $20,000.

A small section of respondents reported hopium-induced ultra bullish calls.

Approximately, 8% of respondents provided a price target greater-than-or-equal-to $100,000, roughly 20% of respondents reported a price target greater-than-or-equal-to $50,000…

Survey participants were very optimistic about ETH’s outlook as well in the next year. This sentiment came from the discussions around Ethereum’s network upgrade and the growing popularity of the DeFi ecosystem. Respondents think ETH will trade at an average price of $1454 in 2021. Also, at the same time:

Close to 59% believe that ether will, at least, hit $800. Additionally, 22% of respondents see ether surpassing its previous all-time high of $1,595 set in early-January 2018 and just under 92% see ether, at the very least, trading higher than current price in 2021.

What becomes evident from the aforementioned numbers is that participants in a price prediction survey tend to project bullish figures for a longer-term.

Will Bitcoin(BTC) and ether (ETH) hit the above price targets in 2021? That still remains to be seen.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bitcoin-price-to-hit-36000-in-2021-kraken-crypto-sentiment-survey/

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Bluzelle Launches Second Swarm of Duty Validator Program as Mainnet Looms

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Distributed database service Bluzelle has released details of its second validator program, Swarm of Duty II. The sequel to the maiden testnet, which ran in July, will provide developers, token-holders, and validators the chance to put Bluzelle through its paces and see what the network is capable of.

“Kicking the tires” of blockchain networks has become something of an event in crypto circles, as the incentives for participating in testnet events are ramped up. Whereas in the past, early supporters would interact with a project’s testnet because they were tech-minded and passionate about seeing it succeed, today’s crypto communities can participate out of enthusiasm or for more mercenary reasons.

From Bluzelle’s perspective, its team wants to spur as much engagement as possible, to stress test the network before the mainnet launch occurs. As CryptoPotato reported earlier, the project has also managed to enter Polkadot’s ecosystem.

Calling All Validators

More than 200 validators participated in Bluzelle’s first Swarm of Duty event over the summer. Bluzelle has structured its testnet events like military exercises, pitting different army factions against one another. Each of the groups participating in the event has different duties to perform, which sometimes conflict with those of other units. This is deliberate to determine how the network performs under adversarial conditions.

At the top of the pecking order are Special Forces (Tier 3), reserved for hardcore Bluzelle DevOps and developers who know the protocol inside out and are heavily invested in its success. Then comes the Armory (Tier 2), made up of validators who are experienced at running blockchain nodes and in earning fees for maintaining the network’s consensus rules. Finally, there is the Infantry (Tier 1), comprising end-users who wish to run their own node using their own hardware or cloud servers.

An Almighty Battle With Prizes at Stake

Bluzelle has devised an array of tasks for each of the groups participating in Swarm of Duty II to complete. For example, its Special Forces have been tasked with providing oracle price feeds by connecting to external data sources via API.

Oracles are crucial in enabling blockchains to execute smart contracts based on the outcome of real-world events, ranging from sports results to the weather.

Ultimately, Bluzelle is seeking feedback and suggestions of all kinds from its community on matters ranging from technical infrastructure to UX. As a result, it’s created an open category for creative ideas that will help to improve the network in every conceivable way. Swarm of Duty II is expected to be the final incentivized testnet before Bluzelle releases its mainnet. At that point, its 10,000 TPS blockchain will be rolled out to dApp developers.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bluzelle-launches-second-swarm-of-duty-validator-program-as-mainnet-looms/

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