Gilbert first heard about Bitcoin in 2012, when the Cyprus crisis was in full swing, and the Cypriot Government was getting ready to impose a levy that would enable them to seize as much as ten percent of the private funds held in banks. Depositors were looking for somewhere else to put their money, and many of them chose Bitcoin as the price of the digital currency was rapidly rising at the time.
Initially, Gilbert educated himself by reading up online about Bitcoin. He read Satoshi’s White Paper and Wikipedia articles, and he went into forums where Bitcoin was discussed. He also listened to a lot of podcasts, and after a while he decided to start one of his own – targeted specifically at Bitcoin lawyers.
“Because Bitcoin is so new, and there’s still so much that we’re figuring out as we go,” says Gilbert, “nobody really has all the answers. But there are a lot of people who know a lot more about at least certain aspects of Bitcoin, so I can learn a lot by just having these people on my podcast.”
Gilbert’s podcast has also enabled him to learn about new Bitcoin issues and how they are being addressed, and about new developments in the space. He said that since he has been doing the podcast, he has gotten calls from all kinds of people who need help with issues related to Bitcoin.
Because the laws and procedures related to Bitcoin are still not firmly established, says Gilbert, it’s prudent to act conservatively and speak to lawyers who can give advice about what you need to do so that you don’t end up in a bad position down the road.”
For instance, the IRS has released guidelines stating that Bitcoin will be treated as property. While this gives some indication as to how the digital currency will be treated, it doesn’t define the process that someone should take to be compliant.
“If you are transacting in Bitcoin a lot,” says Gilbert; “you have to keep track of the dollar value of the Bitcoin when you get it, and the dollar value when you dispose of it.” That can be cumbersome, but there are already programs and apps that can help Bitcoiners track their holdings. Not keeping track can result in heavy fines and other penalties.
Gilbert thinks that this is a good time for lawyers and accountants to establish themselves as experts in this area. Becoming a Bitcoin expert doesn’t take a lot: one just has to do some studying to become educated about the digital currency.
Gilbert says that a lot of the people that come to him ask how they can use Bitcoin to help their businesses. There are a lot of ways they can do that, but Bitcoin is a “new and exciting thing,” and accountants and lawyers have a reputation for being conservative. If some of these professionals take the time to educate themselves and put themselves out there as Bitcoin experts, they can shake that conservative reputation build a profitable new practice in Bitcoin law or accounting.