The case, Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. United States, is not connected with bitcoin’s regulatory or legal status. It checked whether employee stock options perform taxable compensation under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act of 1937. That might seem like an unlikely location for a bitcoin discussion to be kept, but, however, as justices noted in both the majority and dissenting opinions, the matter made them to consider a fundamental question that has also taken on a renewed importance in the decade following the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper: “What is money?”
Finally, the 5-4 majority stated that employees should not be taxed for exercising stock options since the action does not constitute “money remuneration.” Nevertheless, writing in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer reasoned for a “broader understanding of money” and claimed that stock options should be classified as taxable compensation.
Breyer, J., dissenting
Breyer’s opinion, which contained a citation to Money: The Unauthorized Biography - From Coinage to Cryptocurrencies, referred bitcoin as an example of the changing nature of money and supposed that “perhaps one day employees will be paid in Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency.”
When Thursday noticed the first instance of the word “bitcoin” being embelled in a Supreme Court opinion, it’s unlikely to be the last. Actually, cryptocurrency’s perceived association with drug trafficking and other criminal activities could make a prominent appearance in a case whose petition is presently expected before the Court.