Senator Tom Coburn agrees that Bitcoin is not legal currency

Senator Tom Coburn's office finally got around to answering my letter concerning the illegality of Bitcoin. I'm happy to report that he agrees with me that Bitcoin is illegal in the United States.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Earlier this year, I wrote to a dozen or so key Senators and Congressmen concerning the illegality of Bitcoin in the United States. What makes it illegal is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5 of the Constitution of the United States. Only the US Treasury can coin currency. If the US government doesn't produce currency, it is illegal. End of story. Now you have the confirmation from a US Senator to prove it.

I originally wrote to these people to have an opportunity to testify in front of Congress against Bitcoin's use in the US as a currency. Bitcoin is only one of a dozen or so illegal currencies, but Bitcoin seems to be the main one to battle against. If that one's defeated, then it would render all of them as worthless, except for their original purpose of illegal purchases of weapons, drugs, and other contraband.

My response from Senator Coburn's office is given below, in its entirety.

Dear Mr. Hess,

Thank you for writing to me to express your concerns about cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from you on this matter and share many of your concerns.

The IRS recently announced its ruling that cryptocurrencies will be taxed at capital gains rates rather than ordinary tax rates, so there is no longer ambiguity surrounding its tax treatment. I understand your concerns with the potential use of cryptocurrencies in money-laundering activities. This risk is certainly a potential threat, particularly since transactions exceeding ten thousand dollars do not require disclosure to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

In terms of the Department of Treasury’s sole authority to produce currency, the definition of currency must be analyzed. Currency is legal tender recognized by the federal government. In other words, if the federal government does not disperse or remit cryptocurrencies, they are simply not legal currency. If the IRS were to accept bitcoin as tax payment or if Congress were to appropriate bitcoins, then a constitutional conflict would exist under Article I Section 8 Clause 5. I will continue to carefully monitor the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Again, thank you for writing to me. Best wishes.


November 20, 2014
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator

TC: mpk

I hope this letter clears up any ideological conflicts for Bitcoiners and cryptocurrency types. The so-called currencies are illegal under the Constitution and there is no defense otherwise. If you feel that Senator Coburn's opinions on the issue are incorrect, then please feel free to write him. As for me, I rest my case.

However, I'm going to continue my lobby against cryptocurrencies and hope to testify before Congress on the matter.

Related Stories:

Editorial standards