KNAPP COLUMN: Jesus (Sort Of) Versus the Long Arm of Washington’s Reichsfluchtsteuer

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 10, 2024

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On April 29. the US Department of Justice “unsealed” a 2023 indictment of one Roger Ver, better known in cryptocurrency circles as “Bitcoin Jesus.” He was arrested in Spain and as of this writing awaits extradition proceedings.
The indictment claims that Ver failed to hand over a sufficiently large extortion payment to the US government  in 2017, after  leaving the country and renouncing his citizenship in 2014.
The DOJ press release doesn’t put it quite that way, of course. Instead it claims that  “[A]s a result of his expatriation, Ver allegedly was required under U.S. law to file tax returns that reported capital gains from the constructive sale of his world-wide assets …. He was also allegedly required to pay a tax — referred to as an ‘exit tax’ – on those capital gains. … [Ver] concealed the true number of bitcoins he and his companies owned.”
Yes, you have that right. Roger Ver left the US in 2014. Roger Ver renounced his citizenship in 2014. He’s charged with not paying a $48 million bribe to the US government after selling some of his Bitcoin in 2017, when he was neither a citizen of, or resident in, the US.
In 1931, Germany’s Weimar Republic instituted something called the Reichsfluchtsteuer — “Reich Flight Tax” — to prevent wealthy Germans from going, and taking their money, elsewhere … or at least to grab much of that money.
After the Nazis rose to power in 1933, the tax was instead used to seize everything of value from Jews trying to flee the new government’s persecution.
But, so far as I can tell, even the Third Reich didn’t display anything like the sheer gall and temerity of the US regime, chasing down emigrants years later and extorting additional money from them. Hitler’s goons limited themselves to things like pawing through emigrants’ luggage and stealing their jewelry.
Roger Ver’s wealth was never any of the US government’s business (neither is yours), and he never “owed” them a cut of it even when he lived here (nor do you).
This “nice life you’ve built elsewhere,  shame if anything happened to it” routine  is a giant, audacious step beyond most governments’ protection rackets.
To add insult to injury, “Bitcoin Jesus” has probably done you more good — with his investments in, and evangelism for, cryptocurrencies —  than “your” government ever has.
Which may or may not be why they’re after him. But either way, telling Hitler “hey, hold my beer” just isn’t a very good look.