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Author Topic: Bitcoin transactions made retroactively illegal?  (Read 4279 times)
Anders
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June 12, 2011, 05:09:32 PM
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Can laws be made that make certain actions retroactively illegal? So that things done in the past become illegal even though at the time they took place were legal?

Can people who buy bitcoins today be legally prosecuted in the future?   HuhShocked

I guess the laws will be different in different countries.
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Quantumplation
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June 12, 2011, 05:10:25 PM
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No.  There's no such thing as "retroactively illegal", at least not in the united states.  If the law doesn't exist at the time of the crime, you cannot be convicted for it.

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June 12, 2011, 05:13:53 PM
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The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

- Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

- Article 1, Section 10 of the US Constitution
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June 12, 2011, 05:16:47 PM
 #4

In the Mexican Constitution is explicitly forbidden for a new or changed law to have _negative_ retroactive effect on a sentence. Should the judged be found guilty by a previous law and the sentence to be too harsh it can have a retroactive effect in his favour should a change or addition be made.

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June 12, 2011, 05:21:02 PM
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In the UK laws are passed with a start date, which may be before the law was drafted.  But that's mostly used for tax changes (so you can't take advantage of a tax loophole knowing the legisltation to fix the hole will take 6 months to enact).

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June 12, 2011, 05:21:49 PM
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The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

- Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

- Article 1, Section 10 of the US Constitution

I don't understand what that text means. Does it means that taxes can be retroactive? Can bitcoin transactions come to be taxed retroactively?
bitcoinconnection
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June 12, 2011, 05:25:49 PM
 #7

I dont think so, unless they get account information from the difference exchanges. Then they would have to verify with banks or however funds were sent. All of this is very hard even in the computer age.





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Anders
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June 12, 2011, 05:25:55 PM
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Another possibility is that the interpret existing laws to mean that bitcoin transactions are illegal. Yikes. Maybe not bitcoin to bitcoin transactions, but bitcoin to USD transactions for example may be treated differently legally, because those involve real currency transactions.
Anders
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June 12, 2011, 06:03:15 PM
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Best case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are legal and will remain legal. Worst case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are illegal and will remain illegal and you will not only be taxed tremendous amounts retroactively, but also put in jail!
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June 12, 2011, 06:10:35 PM
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Best case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are legal and will remain legal. Worst case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are illegal and will remain illegal and you will not only be taxed tremendous amounts retroactively, but also put in jail!

Correction, Worst case scenario: The entropy death of the universe comes hundreds of billions of years earlier than science predicts and we all cease to exist as soon as I post this response.

Against my better judgement... 1ADjszXMSRuAUjyy3ShFRy54SyRVrNDgDc
Anders
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June 12, 2011, 06:26:49 PM
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Best case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are legal and will remain legal. Worst case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are illegal and will remain illegal and you will not only be taxed tremendous amounts retroactively, but also put in jail!

Correction, Worst case scenario: The entropy death of the universe comes hundreds of billions of years earlier than science predicts and we all cease to exist as soon as I post this response.


Ok, I believe in the theory of extropy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4mHbUq-pb4) and the Law of Accelerating Returns (http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns) rather than a heat death of the universe. But even if you are correct, the scenario with Bitcoin being illegal is more likely I think.  Wink Being put in jail is probably very unlikely, unless perhaps someone has traded millions of dollars, and that the authorities want to state a Bitcoin crackdown example.
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June 12, 2011, 06:37:06 PM
 #12

In national Danish law, as a curiosity, I know that there is nothing in the constitution or elsewhere to prevent making laws that retroactively make things illegal.

In reality however, it is frowned upon, and almost unthinkable in the world of punitive law.

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June 12, 2011, 06:45:41 PM
 #13

Maybe they can't make a new law apply to past actions but they can certainly misapply/reinterpret some old law and apply it to past actions.

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June 12, 2011, 06:57:12 PM
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The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

- Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

- Article 1, Section 10 of the US Constitution

I don't understand what that text means. Does it means that taxes can be retroactive? Can bitcoin transactions come to be taxed retroactively?

ex post fac·to  (ks pst fkt)
adj.
Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. Used especially of a law.

- The Dictionary.
Anders
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June 12, 2011, 07:03:27 PM
 #15


ex post fac·to  (ks pst fkt)
adj.
Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. Used especially of a law.

- The Dictionary.

Yeah, I guessed it meant something like that but I was too lazy to look it up, mainly because the rest of the text seemed so complicated.

I doubt that any democratic country can make retroactive laws for Bitcoins (other than interpreting existing laws), but what they can do is to tax bitcoin transactions retroactively.
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June 12, 2011, 07:05:29 PM
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Maybe they can't make a new law apply to past actions but they can certainly misapply/reinterpret some old law and apply it to past actions.

Yeah, that is probably more likely something that could happen. Nasty.
tehcodez
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June 12, 2011, 07:06:35 PM
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No, not really. Ex post facto situations tend to be obvious.
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June 12, 2011, 07:11:08 PM
 #18

Best case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are legal and will remain legal. Worst case scenario: Bitcoin transactions are illegal and will remain illegal and you will not only be taxed tremendous amounts retroactively, but also put in jail!

Correction, Worst case scenario: The entropy death of the universe comes hundreds of billions of years earlier than science predicts and we all cease to exist as soon as I post this response.


Ok, I believe in the theory of extropy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4mHbUq-pb4) and the Law of Accelerating Returns (http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns) rather than a heat death of the universe. But even if you are correct, the scenario with Bitcoin being illegal is more likely I think.  Wink Being put in jail is probably very unlikely, unless perhaps someone has traded millions of dollars, and that the authorities want to state a Bitcoin crackdown example.

More likely, yes, but not the worst case scenario. =P

Against my better judgement... 1ADjszXMSRuAUjyy3ShFRy54SyRVrNDgDc
Anders
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June 12, 2011, 07:25:38 PM
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More likely, yes, but not the worst case scenario. =P

True, but the worst case scenario is not worth considering, like the universe exploding the next second.

On the other hand the best case scenario is worth considering. Who would like to be 100% legal? I would, I mean I AM! Grin Not even trillions of dollars would make me do anything illegal. And I don't take chances. So I don't trade with bitcoins since that may be illegal.
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June 12, 2011, 09:26:33 PM
 #20

You guys are all living in fairy land if you think governments let codified laws stop them from doing whatever they heck they want.

This is one more reason why Bitcoins are such a great thing for the world!
It takes financial control away from the state, and gives it to the individual.

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