Thursday turned out to be in a certain sense a historical day for bitcoin, since the largest cryptocurrency was first mentioned in the opinion expressed by the US Supreme Court. This writes CCN.
The case of Wisconsin Central Ltd. against the US “was not related to the regulation of bitcoin or its legal status. It concerned the taxation of stock options of employees in the context of the law “On taxation of pension benefits for railway workers” of 1937.
Although this is probably not the most appropriate case for discussing the problem of cryptocurrency, there was one key issue in the case that made the judiciary address the example of bitcoin: “What is money?”
Ultimately, it was decided by the majority that employees should not pay tax when implementing stock options, because this process is not a “monetary reward”.
However, as a separate opinion, Judge Stephen Breyer pointed out that there is a “broader understanding of money”, according to which stock options can be considered as taxable compensation.
To reinforce his point of view, Breyer mentioned bitcoin as an example of the changing nature of money and put forward the theory that “someday employees will probably receive salaries with bitcoins or other cryptocurrency.”
“In addition, we see that money changes with time. The cowrie shells once served as money, but now not; our currency initially included gold coins and bullions, but after 1934 gold ceased to serve as a means of exchange; someday, employees, perhaps, will receive a salary by bitcoins or other cryptocurrency,” he wrote.
Judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer, but remained in the minority against five other judges.
Although this opinion does not directly affect the prospects of the сryptocurrency, it shows that, at least, some people playing a leading role in the US judicial system admit that someday cryptocurrencies can be recognized as a form of money, rather than a form of ownership, as the US Internal Revenue Service believes, or a form of exchange commodity, as insisted by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.