Which Quora employees are worth pursuing?

User happens to get 18,500 Bitcoins - is he now a millionaire?

Quite a few Bitcoin has been lost because users have uninstalled their wallets, cell phones with coins have been lost - or users have even sent their Bitcoins to the wrong account. But what actually happens if you accidentally get Bitcoins? Can you keep them? And do you have to pay taxes on the "gift of money"?

A few months ago a user posted anonymously on the US question portal Quora that he had received an incredible 18,500 Bitcoins and did not know from whom. That would correspond to a good one per thousand of all Bitcoins in circulation and would currently have a value of 66.6 million euros. Another user claimed to have received 2,041 Bitcoins (7.3 million euros) elsewhere. Due to the structure of Bitcoin, the original owner is difficult to trace and difficult to identify. On the question platform, both asked for advice on what to do next.

18,500 Bitcoins: fact or fake?

At least the 18,500 Bitcoin Post is probably a fake. A shift of 18,500 bitcoins is no small thing in the crypto network. A wallet of this size was, then as now, one of the top 100 worldwide. Currently, such a wallet would be the 59th largest Bitcoin exchange in the world. Since all payments can be traced in the blockchain, it can also be checked whether such a Bitcoin shift took place around the time of the Quora post. However, there is no such transaction among the 100 largest Bitcoin wallets. However, such a transfer cannot be completely ruled out if, for example, it took place long before the Quora request.

On Quora, users recommend the happy Bitcoin owner to delete all his social media accounts, leave the country forever and go into hiding for at least two years - for fear of the former, possibly criminal owner. “Don't tell your friends, don't tell your girlfriend,” said a Quora user, “just disappear without a trace. Go immediately. "

Is a multi-million dollar tax payment looming?

In fact, in 2014 researchers succeeded in determining the IP addresses and thus the location of up to 60 percent of Bitcoin transactions. Completely anonymous Bitcoin transactions are possible - but not without precautions. So anyone who has lost millions through a faulty transaction could be tempted to seek out the new owner.

The crypto currency is created in this Chinese Bitcoin mine

The crypto currency is created in this Chinese Bitcoin mine

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The most obvious question, however, is whether, as a random recipient of the Bitcoins, you are also legally its new owner. At least in Germany, the legal situation is clear: “No”, says Florian Glatz, IT lawyer and President of the Federal Blockchain Association, “it is a case of unjust enrichment. There is a right to surrender according to § 812 BGB. ”However, returning the coins in the Bitcoin system is problematic because the sender can no longer be identified. Some send addresses are also only temporarily valid. A transfer back could lead to the complete loss of all bitcoins for both sides.

If the sender's claim expires due to a lack of identifiability, says Gatz, “the amount should of course be taxed. Maybe you can define it as a gift. ”This means a gift for which both parties agree that the donation is free of charge, for example like a Christmas present. In Germany, however, taxation would be a bit complicated. Because bitcoins are not legal tender or e-money in this country. The Federal Ministry of Finance classifies Bitcoins as private money - similar to foreign currencies.

Therefore, if bitcoins are only sold after a period of one year, profits from trading bitcoins are basically tax-free - at least for private individuals. Otherwise, trading Bitcoins is considered a speculative business - the profits of which must be taxed at the tax office. Since the recipient can hardly tell when the bitcoins that suddenly appeared were bought by the previous owner with a “real” fiat currency such as euros or dollars and he is following in the tax footsteps of the “giver”, he has to wait at least a year before he can Can sell Bitcoins - or, in the case of an 18,500 Bitcoin donation, pay a tax levy in the millions (Section 23 Paragraph 1 No. 3 Sentence 3 EStG). Because the statutory allowance is just 600 euros.

Legally, however, the taxation of Bitcoin assets and profits has not yet been examined by a court. It is quite possible that the tax office will interpret the legal basis differently in the future.


Image: Getty / George Frey / Stringer