‘Ether is a commodity’, Says CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert

By Shannon Wilson | October 11, 2019

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)’s chairman Heath Tarbert said he views Ethereum’s ether as a commodity, similar to bitcoin.

Speaking to the Yahoo! Finance All Markets Summit in New York City, Tarbert opinioned that ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is not a security.

“We’ve been very clear on bitcoin: bitcoin is a commodity. We haven’t said anything about ether – until now. It is my view as chairman of the CFTC that ether is a commodity,” Tarbert said.

He further said that he agreed on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s previous ruling that bitcoin and ether are not securities and that the CFTC was working with the SEC on these issues. Tarbert further suggested that the CFTC may soon allow ether futures to trade on the U.S. markets.

Notably, the chairman’s comment should not be as surprising since the CFTC has regarded bitcoin as a commodity since 2014. The interesting part, however, is when he said that “similar digital assets should be treated similarly.” That being said, ETH will likely not be the last cryptocurrency to be seen as a commodity by the CFTC.

According to CoinDesk, a CFTC official in May said the office is prepared to approve an Ethereum futures contract if the correct conditions are met.

Tarbert also addressed cryptocurrencies created through hard forks and issued via initial coin offering, shortly after the IRS issued cryptocurrency tax guidance for the first time in 5 years.

IRS’ Revenue Ruling 2019-24 intends to help taxpayers understand reporting obligations for specific transactions that involve cryptocurrencies. Particularly, it addresses tax liabilities created by crypto forks, the acceptable methods for declaring crypto received as income, and how to determine tax gains when selling cryptos.

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