They Thought They Could Do it and They Did!

In my travels I have never experienced a community so involved in helping one another old/young, native/foreigner, human/animal…as Rosarito, and the communities at its borders.

One such group is Mujeres Para Mujeres (Women for Women), established March 16, 2018. About 50 ladies attended the inaugural gathering and continue to meet on the 8th of every even-numbered month with “Potlucks for a Purpose.” The times and days of the week vary in order to allow everyone  to attend, allowing for those who may have monthly meetings at scheduling conflicts.

I met with Board members Carol Council, Mary Contreras, Valerie Russell, and Barbara Acosta for an update of how the organization was progressing. These four met about a year ago in an effort to find ways that women could share their talents and skills and empower other women. The goal was to be of service and support “with” people, not “at” people; creating and extending relationships for a better community. “More can be helped if more become involved.”

They explained that Women for Women is a multicultural organization dedicated to “meeting the needs of girls and women in Baja,” with the target populations of teenagers, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and those just striving to improve their lives. They seek  “to empower women to use their voices, acquire new skills, maximize their education, support other women, learn trades, and start businesses.”

On October 16, 2019 the Casa de Mujeres opened its blue door on Paseo de los Heroes in Santa Anita, south of La Mision. The Casa is open Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Several 6-week classes are currently being offered, with more under consideration. Every encounter is valuable. A six-week Self Esteem class led by Joanna Wood started with 13 signups and only three show-ups. Of these three only one lady finished, but this singular student declared, “This class saved my life.” By using the tools she had learned, “I feel happier, healthier, and more peaceful now than ever.”

Most classes suggest a 20 peso donation, but the fee is waived for those who cannot afford the payment. English class with Rita Gullickson is at 10:30 on Mondays, with ladies learning English through simple conversation. The Women’s Creativity Circle meets Fridays at 9:30 for Movement with Laura Mandala an Arts (painting, drawing, collage, writing…) at 10:30 with Sue McDevitt. Classes are mostly in Spanish.

A Sewing Program connected to Casa del Sol Naciente and run by Rosa Martinez is offered to those actually seeking a career in sewing and fashion; it’s a 2-year, 6-days a week intense sewing program. Information and scholarships are available through MPM or email rosamartinez77@gmail.com.

MPM’s Home Health Care program, led by Mary Simmons, is partnered with Rosarito Beach Christian Church. This 8-week course provides skills for the home health care workers who aid those who prefer to stay home during illness.. Tuition is $100. Anyone wishing to provide a scholarship should contact Mary Simmons.

Mujeres Para Mujeres is starting a microfinance program, with the committee chaired by Karen Cebreros. They are currently researching ways in which to provide microloans to women for entrepreneurial and educational ventures. MPM has partnered with VIA International, which has positive experience in micro-lending with 100% payback of microloans worldwide. Helping to fund this program are Greeting Cards by Rhonda, on sale at Baja Mail in Puerto del Valle, near La Mision. The cards may be customized for particular occasions.

For more information, MPM cordially invites you to their next gathering, a cookie exchange Sunday, December 8th at 3:30 pm at La Jolla Condos (km29, across the boulevard from Fat Cat Restaurant). Bring three dozen cookies to exchange. Membership is not a prerequisite.  For additional details, contact ValerieMRussell@yahoo.com.

March 8th will be the 1st anniversary of MPM and elections for next year’s Board will be held. The group is always seeking new energetic members, Mexican and expat, especially from the northern area of Rosarito. I know many of us have been giving generously of our time and funds, especially after the spate of fires Rosarito has experienced, but please consider sharing your talents with this fine group of ladies. Do you have any ideas for a class or a workshop that would benefit local ladies? They are currently seeking a Membership Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Development Director, and Grant Writer… and a dozen folding chairs.

Donations or memberships may be paid through PayPal at MujeresParaMujeres2019@gmail.com. MPM is close to achieving their US 501(c)(3) non-profit status, making all donations tax-deductible. For information on any of the programs, classes, greeting cards, etc., please visit the Facebook page “Mujeres Para Mujeres Group” or phone 646-978-7507.

Consider coming out of retirement for this great cause. Gentlemen are welcome
too!

Giving Thanks

The spooks and ghouls of Halloween have gone into hiding; the departed loved ones who were honored during Day of the Dead await their next visit to their living counterparts.

The languid, lazy days of summer are over. School is back in session. Days are short, and flu season is back with a vengeance.

So how do we deal with the crisp fall months and the promise of another winter season?

We go shopping, of course!

Once upon a time (but well before MY time, I’m fairly certain), each holiday was representative of a corresponding season and usually was representative of a religious (or spiritual) observance.

Now that we’ve become indoctrinated by the corporate guidelines of product release dates and numeric progressions (we’re up to iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S-10), we know what Junior wants to find in his Christmas stocking well before the younger kids go trick-or-treating.

Nothing wrong with that. We’re evolving as a race. We want everyone to be happy and fulfilled.

But way back in our memory banks the true meaning of each holiday still resides. We know that, well before our time, many people paid some significant dues in order to guarantee that we would have the freedom to worship and to celebrate each and every holiday in whatever manner we so choose.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in countries other than the United States, but is generally accepted in each of them to be a time of recognizing and honoring a power greater than ourselves, a power that governs the seasons and the bounty of the earth itself, and is therefore respectfully paid tribute to by either fasting during lean times or feasting during successful ones.

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620’s and 1630’s celebrated Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving in their home country and brought those traditions with them to their new home in North America.

In 1619, possibly the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated by a group of 38 English settlers at Charles City County, Virginia. This event had been decreed as a religious celebration in recognition of the grace of God, by whose blessing the travelers reached their destination safely.

In 1621, another group of settlers celebrated at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts. They were fortunate in that the Native American Indians were generous and kind, and provided them with a bountiful feast to celebrate the success of their long journey.

Subsequent celebrations in New England included another celebration in Plymouth in 1623 and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.

Up until 1682, religious leaders proclaimed that annual celebrations be held in reverence and appreciation for the bountiful gifts provided by successful harvests, most of which occurred well before the November date which later became set as the last Thursday of each November.

As the first President of the United States, George Washington decreed that November 26th be recognized as a national holiday, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Thanksgiving a celebration to be held on the last Thursday of November, providing for a four-day holiday for many workers and their families.

So here we are! As with many if not all of the traditional holidays, Thanksgiving has evolved into a shopping frenzy, this one happening just before  Christmas. “Black Friday” has become an annual circus during which adults flock to the brick-and-mortar retail outlets to fight each other over the latest gadget from Apple or Microsoft to place beneath the aluminum Christmas tree for their beloved children.

In reality, the beauty of Thanksgiving is that it is a time for family members to enjoy a brief reunion, to give thanks for their health and safety, and to enjoy a few days of relaxation away from the stress of the workplace and a return to the comfort of home, sweet home.

Although Thanksgiving is not officially a holiday in Mexico, many ex-pats living in the Mediterranean warmth and security of Baja celebrate here anyway.

Many restaurants have Thanksgiving specials, catering to the people who cherish that holiday as a time to take stock of their many blessings and give thanks accordingly.

Also, as Thanksgiving is a signpost that Christmas is almost upon us, many people show their appreciation for their good fortune by donating to local shelters, orphanages, and institutions such as Cruz Roja.

Giving thanks by giving back is the most spiritual way one can show his or her appreciation for the good life here in Baja.

Pulling Together After the Fires

In October, fires ran rampant through areas of northern Baja. Several areas of Rosarito were hit hard. This article will focus on re-building operations that have come to my attention as of the first week of November. There may have been additional fires, and certainly more sources of relief that haven’t yet come to light. But here’s what we know as of this writing:

We’ve already heard numerous accounts of individual suffering due to the tragic fires, so we need not reiterate those tragedies. Our focus here is to shed light on sources of relief and recovery.

The two main fire areas were in Rosarito in the Ejido Morelos/ Santa Anita del Mar area, about three miles east of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, where 20 – 30 homes burned. The other primary location is in La Mision, where approximately 40 homes burned, many of which were owned by expats.

One big difference is that most of the less fortunate Mexican homeowners do not carry home insurance, so when the home and/or car is destroyed they are left with nothing. Most of them work for mere pesos to begin with, and In many cases the fires destroyed their means and implements of income, such as food preparation utensils or house-cleaning supplies.

Here are the Facebook organizations that have come to my attention as of the Gringo Gazette publication deadline:

KSitas – on Facebook and www.ksitas.org; a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funds may be donated to https://ksitas.org/bajacampaigns. 100% of the money donated will go to building supplies and labor for rebuilding homes.

Colectivo Surf Brew Company (above White Horse Liquors) and local artist Jaime Carbo spearheaded this group. An auction of some of Jaime’s artwork is scheduled to aid the rebuilding effort. The first house is nearly finished, at a cost of about $6000 (USD). Their website is an excellent source of relief efforts.

Facebook: Baja Fire Victims – Led by Jackie Alameda (Of Baja Blues Fest) and Lisa Marlott, their group is working to rebuild 30 homes. They’re appealing to the public for food items, toiletries, diapers, building materials, medical supplies, blankets and sleeping bags. www.gofundme.com/f/baja-fire-Victims is their website. For more Information please call: 1-858-790-2380.

Facebook: La Mision Fire Relief Fund – and https://openarmsmexico.org. Led by Daniel and Heidi Elizarraraz, Directors. You may donate at the website through PayPal or with a credit card. Checks may be sent to Open Arms, PO Box 6605, Chula Vista, CA 91909. All donations are tax-deductible. Phone: 1-619-882-9001 or 01152-646-255-0858. Check their website for information on how to donate.

Kumiai Fire Relief Drive – to help our indigenous “first people” in the hills. Needed are non-perishable food, water, clothes, blankets, toiletries, wood, pet feed and cash. Drop off points are at Kumeyaay Community College, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday / Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Manzanita Activity Center Monday – Friday 10 am – 2 pm, and Viejas Recreational Center, Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm. Contact Martha Rodriguez 760-445-7726 for information. Also Grace Sesma, 720-363-6034, and Brooke Baines, US 1-619-519-8264.

I must caution you about Go Fund Me pages where you are not personally knowledgeable of the person in charge. These may be used for good or for evil purposes. If you know the person or group hosting the page, by all means feel free to contribute, but tragedy attracts creeps who take advantage of the situation for their own personal enrichment. Make sure you know your money is being used for the purpose you intended.

There will certainly be more groups forthcoming. Please share through your social media, or by personal reference. Much help is needed. You may also take donations of clothing, household goods, etc. to the local Cruz Roja Thrift Stores in Rosarito and Primo Tapia, which help our community year-round.

Thank you so much for your support of the community.

Fins Up! It’s 5:00 o’clock Somewhere

There is a new social club coming to Rosarito and Ensenada. Many of you may already qualify for membership even if you don’t know it. If you have a “laid back” attitude, you enjoy having fun with people who are a lot like you, and escaping to the beach is your lifetime goal (and let’s face it…we are HERE aren’t we?) then you just might be a Parrot Head.

No, I didn’t just insult your intelligence. Baja’s two newest Parrot Head Clubs (yes, there IS such a thing) are submitting their charter applications this November for inclusion into the Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc., which was created back in 1994.

Now, these clubs are not just another excuse to party. But as Chapters President Larry Norman explained to me, their tag line is “Party with a purpose.” And we can “party with a purpose while supporting our community and have fun doing it!” Over the last 16 years, Parrot Head Clubs have contributed $53.5 million to charitable organizations all over the world, and members have donated 4.2 million volunteer hours to their communities.

Larry described the Club’s Mission Statement is to “promote friendship and organized activities for people that share an affection for the tropical spirit of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and a desire to contribute to the betterment of our community and environment through a variety of volunteer efforts.” Just think, with all of the post-fire labor we all have been doing, those hours can be made part of our local Parrot Head charitable experience. The principle charities that will be supported by the Rosarito and Ensenada chapters are Hearts of Baja and Blues Against Hunger Society, which are charities near and dear to our hearts.

The first organizational meeting for the Ensenada chapter is 4 pm on November 12 at the Hotel Coral and Marina and in Rosarito November 14 at the Club at Number 18, Pikin Zip Line Park at 4 pm. Both meetings will be followed by a free three-hour concert by Mike Nash, one of Nashville’s top artists. Don’t worry if you miss the first meetings. The Parrot Head clubs will meet every month on the first Tuesday in Ensenada and first Thursday in Rosarito, with “It’s 5 o’clock” social hours to follow. Concerts will be performed every three months.

Mike Nash has played with Jimmy Buffet, Charlie Daniels, and Lynyrd Skynrd, to drop just a few names. He tours the United States, including Alaska, ever year in his motor home. Larry convinced him to come down to Baja as long as he was going to be in San Diego on his Stay Thirsty 2020 Winter Tour anyway.

I visited the Rosarito Chapter clubhouse, which is in Larry’s home and has been renovated into a club atmosphere complete with two indoor bars, comfy concert seating, fully stocked kitchen for food at the events, and (for sunnier weather) an outdoor bandstand with a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Membership is $20, and Larry hopes to have 40 Charter Members signed up during these first two meetings. But don’t worry if you miss the meetings as they will meet every month. Contact Larry at larrynormanctc@gmail.com or at US 1-619-554-2438 with any questions you have or to RSVP.  In time Larry would like to see more Parrot Head Clubs in Baja than in California (which has 6).

Some of you may still be asking “So why ‘Parrot Head?’” Originally it was said to be as “Dead Heads” followed the Grateful Dead, Buffet fans followed the message of Buffet’s music. For some reason unclear to me, these fans took to wearing stuffed parrots on their heads at concerts. So if this story has you humming “Margaritaville” right now, you just might be a Parrot Head.

Creative Gastronomy Comes to Town

BY DANIELLE WILLIAMS

Tripping at Viaje is what I like to do on a mellow Sunday afternoon on the terrasse of the newer restaurant in town, VIAJE, COCINA DEL MUNDO.  Cool jazz from a 4-piece ensemble, a glass of Chardonnay, and having just polished off an order of enfrijoladas – a sort of chicken crepes in a luscious bean sauce redolent of pasillas chiles – takes me close to Nirvana, or maybe pig’s heaven with an ocean view.

Open with much fanfare in February, Viaje is located midtown Rosarito in the Quinta del Mar complex. You drive through the arch and it is a straight shot around the fountain.

The building had been a restaurant in a former incarnation some 15 years ago when it burned down.  In came Jerome Gombert, a talented and ambitious Frenchman with successful restaurant experience in San Diego (Vagabond in North Park).  He had the vision to turn the structure into the stunning establishment it has become. Assisted by designer Roderick Shade of Architectural Digest fame, he has created an airy, elegant, yet hip space. The design takes advantage of existing exposed structural elements: the cellar, the vintage tile and wide plank wood floor, and wall niches. It has two distinct areas: a refectory style room around an oyster bar with two dozen huge lanterns to offset the bare bone feeling; in sharp contrast you then proceed to an explosion of colors and textures for a 1001-nights feeling provided by kilometers of draped sari fabrics in the two cozy rooms adjoining the patio.

When alone, I sit at the bar for a chat with Jeser, the amiable bartender. As a bonus, it affords a full view of the open kitchen with pedigreed chef, Jonathan  Casas, and his team in action. Everything is prepared to order with mostly local ingredients: organic veggies from the Guadalupe Valley and seafood from Ensenada and San Quintin.

Viaje, meaning “travel” offers a culinary tour of the world with an eclectic selection of French, Peruvian, Moroccan, and Chinese preparations.  I have not tried it all, but the steak tartare is for me a near addiction: chopped to order fresh sirloin with assorted spices. Jonathan’s rendition of bouillabaisse, the French fish soup, is another favorite.  If you are fussy about your oysters, you’ll love these plump, sweet on the shell – the best anywhere.  My companions have raved about the various ceviches which  I have not tried yet, but looked like works of art.

Several times, the attendance was minimal making me think that Viaje has not yet appeared on everyone’s radar.  I have heard that some folks are intimidated by the exotic touch and fear high prices. In reality, the prices are reasonable and the place is unpretentious as is Jerome whose hospitality makes you feel at home. As of this writing, there is a happy hour from 5-7 on weekdays with music on Friday. Try it, enjoy it, and why not toss a coin in the fountain on your way out.

Facial Recognition Technology is Here

In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, “The Minority Report,” facial recognition technology was present at every transit center and port of entry in every city, allowing the government to track the movements of any- and everyone. A person wanted for questioning or in the process of committing an unlawful act could easily be tracked and thereby quickly located and apprehended by authorities.

When that film was released, facial recognition technology was science fiction; although it was in research and development stages in reality then, it was far too expensive to be put into practical use.

As interest in the technology grew, several mega-corporations began competing to develop it into a viable product that could be sold to governments for use at border crossings, airports, and other transit centers, ostensibly to track bad guys and apprehend them before they could wreak havoc on government installations or on the population in general.

The US Customs and Border Protection agency announced in August that it is set to begin expanding the use of facial recognition technology at border crossings in California and Texas to screen people entering the country. In fact, it has already formally requested bids from companies for development and installation of the technology at the crossing sites.

The plan is to replace the static inspection kiosks with dynamic mobile biometric systems. In other words, documents (i.e., passports) and fingerprint tracking will be enhanced and ultimately replaced by the biometric system.

CBP has sought bids for a “test phase,” which will begin in December and continue as long as through May 2025. The bid is rumored to be worth as much as $960 million USD.

Currently, the three major corporations capable of developing and supporting the technology are Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., and Google.

The government document that announced the request for bids to develop the technology for practical and widespread use at border crossings states that “A biometric-based approach allows threats to be pushed out further beyond our borders before travelers arrive to the U.S.” In other words, troublemakers will be identified and detained before they are even close to entering the country.

San Francisco was the first city to ban the use of such technology, citing privacy and civil rights issues. Other cities are set to follow suit.

The problem that many see with the technology is that as software designs have improved and computing costs have diminished, the use of facial recognition promises to be put into use by more and more entities, not limited in any way to the government’s use of it at international border crossings.

As in Spielberg’s film, such technology was employed by police departments, using it to arrest and detain people for “Pre-crimes,” with the assumption that spying on people enabled them to predict by a person’s behavior that he was imminently going to commit a crime before actually doing it.

CBP is already under serious criticism for its policies of separating children from their parents at the border. Many fear that their inhumane policies will only become more severe with the use of a technology that is based on software applications that are still in the developmental stages, and have not been tested on a large scale in practical situations.

The inherent dangers are obvious.

Over the last decade, CBP has made several deals with tech companies to enhance its surveillance capabilities. In 2013, CBP awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Northrup Grumman Corp (a manufacturer of fighter bomber jets, among other things) to develop biometric software that is currently in use at 15 airports around the country. The agency’s goal is to have such technology cover virtually every major U.S. airport by 2021.

At present, CBP tracks over 1 million individuals and about 280,000 vehicles daily. Its software is currently maintained by Amazon Web Services and Salesforce Inc. Although the staff of San Francisco-based Salesforce lobbied for the firm to cut ties with CBP, the CEO of Salesforce announced that he will continue to honor its contract with the agency.

Privacy? What privacy? Your cell phone is already a GPS tracker. You’re always being watched by a system of satellites.

Why not facial recognition? What have you got to hide?

Sadly, it doesn’t matter. They see you coming….

Casting Call! Extras Needed!

Monday, September 9th, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at Baja Studios, Rosarito. Extras needed for two television shows filming between October 2019 and May 2020. The Barbarella Casting Agency is looking for men and women of all ages (6 – 70), all sizes, all “looks.” Especially needed: Men with hair and mustaches in full growth.

What to expect: Have your photo taken; have measurements taken for costumes, and provide your name and contact information. No appointment needed – Just show up.

Are you a SmartTraveler?

Are you a US Citizen who is a long-term resident of Baja California?  Or a casual tourist, just visiting for a few days?

Either way, there’s a great free resource for you available from the US State Department!  Smart Traveler is the official State Department app for U.S. travelers.  It provides access to frequently-updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. With Smart Traveler, you can create personal itineraries, add notes, and organize your trips.

Smart Traveler also provides access to the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment enables the State Department to better assist you in emergencies such as natural disasters, unrest in foreign countries, or lost/stolen passports overseas. During your travels, STEP can help your family and friends reach you in an emergency. Smart Traveler also provides quick access to the Department’s Consular Affairs Facebook and Twitter pages.

To get started, go to your app store and search for “Smart Traveler”.  Download the app to your mobile device, and follow the on-screen directions to register for STEP.  Part of the process includes identifying where you are (or will be), and for how long, as well as providing identification and address details.  This allows email alerts specific to your geographical location to be sent in the event of natural disasters or other issues

Wherever you’re going, stay safer and use the SmartTraveler app and STEP.  You’ll be glad you did!

Astronomical Views in Tijuana

I discovered something new this week – well, new to me. While driving the “Sentri route” through Tijuana, one passes all these green “El Trompo” signs featuring an illustration of a spinning top. El Trompo is an interactive museum in Parque Morales near CECUT and CEART Tijuana.

Coincidentally, Ms. Rosario Ruiz Camacho, Director of said Museum, spoke at the weekly meeting of the Rosarito Press Club AC, and revealed new major happenings at El Trompo.

On August 23rd, the museum inaugurated a new planetarium project, open to the public six days a week, but geared to primary and secondary students. Constructed by Planetarium de Torreon, the El Trompo planetarium salon measures nine meters in diameter with a 180-degree projection screen and has a capacity for 50 people per showing with accommodations for the physically challenged. The laser projector system is a state-of-the-art laser with 4K image quality, coupled with a Surround Sound digital system.

Some believe that to be a planetarium the location must include a telescope but in reality, a planetarium is a theatre for presenting educational programs about astronomy, and in this case, astronautics, “the theory and practice of travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere.” (Thank you, Wikipedia).

The primary functions of this ambitious project are the development of astronomical research, instrumental and technological development, and the teaching and communicating of science. El Trompo planetarium will be an innovative tool to foster the interest in the sciences, not only for educational scholars but for the general community as well.  Whereas the programming is geared toward students of the primary and secondary grades, this should not stop adults from attending.

Four films will alternate in the planetarium’s programming; “Tochitli: The Adventures of the Lunar Rabbit,” “Losing the Darkness,” “From the Earth to the Universe,” and “Mayan Arqueoastronomia (astronomical archeology): Observations of the Universe.” Other topics will include current astronomical research being done in Mexico, light pollution, Mayan myths, and other modern topics that will help us to understand our place in the cosmos.

This is the only planetarium in Tijuana and only the third planetary museum nationwide with this high of a quality projection system. El Trompo is open Tuesday through Friday 9:00 – 5:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 6:00. Astronomical programs are shown Tuesday through Friday at 2:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 pm. The most popular hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, and since programming is created to interest students (read: school groups), it could be a bit noisy during these hours. Admission for the general public is 50 pesos and the school package including interactive rooms is 45 pesos. Check out their informative sites at www.ElTrompo.org or on Facebook.com/ElTrompo.

Some of the major donors for this project are the Tijuana Rotary Club, Grupo Tress International, the Tijuana Development Council (CDT), Student Council of Science and Technology of Baja California (COCITBC), and the Business Trust of Baja California (FIDEM).

It’s All in the Cards

BY ORLANDO GOTAY

Earthquakes can be catastrophic events due to massive forces and unpredictability. Science always looks for clues to figure out when the next “big one” will arrive.  In the tax arena, I can’t predict, but there’s an earthquake looming– aimed at persons who own, trade or use virtual currencies (“crypto”).

The IRS responds slowly to technology. Early 2014 guidance simply said crypto was “property” and that crypto income or gain just had to be reported like any other property.

In November 2016, the IRS went after Coinbase, a large San Francisco based crypto exchange, seeking trader information. In 2017 the IRS won– a list of persons with at least one transaction of $20,000 or more between 2013 and 2015.

In June 2019, the IRS sent letters to 10,000 persons urging “review” of tax reporting on account of crypto transactions. Two additional versions of the letter exist, in which the IRS states “potential misreporting” of transactions, or even requesting specific taxpayer responses.

This month, H.M. Revenue and Customs (the British IRS) requested user names and transaction data from UK-based exchanges. The tectonic plates are beginning to shift all over. Tax administrators have seen not just massive money floating around, but unreported and untaxed money.

From IRS court filings: “There has been an explosion of billions of dollars of wealth in just a few years from bitcoin, a significant amount of which has no doubt accrued to United States taxpayers, with virtually no third-party reporting to the IRS of that increase in income.”

And that takes me to the next point, the likely earthquake.

So far, “foreign” crypto is not reportable under Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) or Form 8938, Report of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. But all those IRS letters can’t be seen in isolation; they must be part of a broader effort. That could be updated guidance, including new reporting requirements for “foreign” crypto.  And if this concerns you, you should follow this closely.

If “foreign” crypto holdings are reportable, I would expect some type of shoehorning into existing FBAR/8938 reporting schemes…akin to a square peg in a round hole. This would likely require potentially massive information gathering from its owners, just to be able to comply. I would urge crypto holders to look immediately at their holdings, and to begin getting a grasp of the magnitude of data that could be needed: exchanges, transactions, digital wallets, valuation of e-coin, and more.  Forewarned is forearmed!

 

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (with a Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at tax@orlandogotay.com or Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer.  This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

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