The Definitive Guide for Cryptocurrency Taxation
Introduction to Cryptocurrencies and Taxes
A Word on Cryptocurrencies
The bulk of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other altcoins had their coming out party in 2017. With all the excitement and opportunities around these virtual coins, it might be easy to forget about crypto taxation. Just about every virtual currency transaction; from mining and spending to trading and exchanging, will be a taxable event for U.S. tax purposes. According to Uncle Sam, Bitcoin and other cryptos are classified as property. That means whenever you buy something with crypto, it’s not one transaction but two. What you are actually doing is selling property for a cash value and then using money from that sale to purchase a product. So, every purchase you make with cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or a Bitcoin alternative, has to be reported in your taxes.
With cryptocurrencies’ value constantly changing, keeping track of all that data could be a nightmare come tax time. But let’s say you are holding on to cryptocurrencies as an investment. You’ve watched the value grow and now want to cash out. If you held those cryptocurrencies for less than a year, you will be taxed at short-term income rates. If you’ve held for over a year, you will be taxed at long-term income rates.
According to the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was recently passed, short-term and long-term capital gains taxes are going to be applied as follows:
Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
Married Filing Jointly
Head of Household
Married Filing Separately
|0%||Up to $38,600||Up to $77,200||Up to $51,700||Up to $38,600|
|15%||$38,601 to $425,800||$77,201 to $479,000||$51,701 to $452,400||$38,601 to $239,500|
|20%||Over $425,800||Over $479,000||Over $452,400||Over $239,500|
Short-Term Capital Gains Rate
Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
Married Filing Jointly
Head of Household
Married Filing Separately
|10%||$0 to $38,700||$0 to $19,050||$0 to $13,600||$0 to $9,525|
|12%||$9,525 to $38,700||$19,050 to $77,400||$13,600 to $51,800||$9,525 to $38,700|
|22%||$38,700 to $82,500||$77,400 to $165,000||$51,800 to $82,500||$38,700 to $82,500|
|24%||$82,500 to $157,500||$165,000 to $315,000||$82,500 to $157,500||$82,500 to $157,500|
|32%||$157,500 to $200,000||$315,000 to $400,000||$157,500 to $200,000||$157,500 to $200,000|
|35%||$200,000 to $500,000||$400,000 to $600,000||$200,000 to $500,000||$200,000 to $500,000|
|37%||Over $500,000||Over $600,000||Over $500,000||Over $500,000|
However, here’s the problem: almost no one does it. From 2013 to 2015, less than 900 people each year reported Bitcoin transactions to the IRS. That’s out of millions just counting the number of users on crypto exchange Coinbase alone. This prompted the IRS to label cryptocurrency as property, back in 2014, and to recently service summons to Coinbase. They called for the records of over 14,000 users who have bought, sold, sent or received at least 20,000 dollars’ worth of Bitcoin in the given year.
Moving forward, there may be some relief. A bipartisan bill, the Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act, was presented to Congress in September 2017. It’s seeking to create a tax exemption for cryptocurrency transactions under 600 dollars. So, there is some hope for amnesty but with the price of some of these cryptocurrencies skyrocketing, Uncle Sam still looks poised to get a decent cut of the action.
The Evolution of Cryptocurrencies as an Asset Class
When we look back on the history and emergence of cryptocurrencies, 2017 will be the year that things truly took off. The total market cap of all cryptocurrencies began the year just shy of 18 billion USD and by the end of the year the total market cap stood at around $245 billion, with Bitcoin owning about 50 percent of the market share and the next closest competitor, Ethereum, at almost 14 percent. Now, as the public interest on cryptocurrencies continues to grow, the lingering question remains: Is cryptocurrency money, a security or is it an asset?
While crypto currencies fulfill all the conditions to be classified as money, there is one factor holding them back; volatility. It’s hard for a merchant to accept $75 USD in Bitcoin for a pair of shoes only to see the price fall to $20 USD. Who in their right mind wants to spend even a dollar in cryptocurrency on cheap cup of coffee, when that same dollar might be worth ten, twenty, or fifty times as much within just a decade?
Reasons Why Cryptocurrencies Represent a New Asset Class
1. Their Politico-Economic Profile
What gives cryptocurrencies value is the fact that they can facilitate all kinds of transactions, starting with the most basic one of enabling money in the form of bitcoin or other alt coins, to be sent across the world near immediately, securely, transparently, and at almost no cost. Most of them are governed by protocols run by a distribution of computer networks unlike the fiat currencies which are controlled by government monetary policy.
2. Their Invest-ability
The collective daily trading volume for digital currencies by the second quarter of 2016 stood at more than 2 billion dollars. Bitcoin exchange trading volume alone averaged around 1 billion dollars a day through the first quarter of 2016 with roughly the same liquidity as the largest gold ETF (GLD) and three times that of Vanguard’s REIT ETF (VNQ). All this is despite the fact that GLD and VNQ store significantly more in assets than Bitcoin.
Cryptos are expected to become even more liquid with time thanks to its accessibility around the world. Some analysts believe that more people will be inclined to hold more cryptocurrencies than equities of a publicly traded company.
3. Risk-Reward Profiles
Cryptocurrencies have proven to have quit attractive risk-reward profiles as seen by their Sharpe Ratios. In simple terms, Sharpe Ratios measure the amount of returns from a given asset per unit of risk taken. For the last three to four years, Bitcoin currency has shown to have a superior Sharpe Ratios compared to all other asset classes.
The mindset of crypto users is deeply entrenched as an asset. People are pumping money into these virtual currencies in the expectation of greater returns. They expect their investment to continue to rise in value as it has for the past few years. While most investors of Bitcoin are excited about the future of altcoins and the shift from traditional banking conglomerates, the overwhelming appeal is in the prospect of profit to be gained.
Tax Implications for Cryptocurrencies
Various cryptocurrency transactions have different tax implications. Let’s briefly examine some of them.
This is a tax event and may generate capital gains or losses, which can be short-term or long-term. For example, say you bought one coin for 50 dollars. If that coin was then worth 120 dollars and you bought a 120-dollar gift card, there is a 70 dollar taxable gain. Depending on the holding period, it could be a short- or long-term capital gain subject to different rates.
Trading cryptocurrency produces capital gains or losses, with the latter being able to offset gains and reduce tax.
Receiving Payments in Cryptocurrency
Receiving cryptocurrency, in exchange for products or services or as salary is treated as ordinary income at the fair market value of the coin at the time of receipt.
That value will become the basis of the coin. When it’s sold, exchanged, etc., there will be a capital gain which is taxable.
Exchanging One Type of Cryptocurrency for Another
A good example is using Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH) to purchase an altcoin such as Litecoin cryptocurrency (LTC). This creates a taxable event. The ETH is treated as being sold, thus generating capital gains or losses based on the FMV and cost basis of the ETH when you liquidate it to purchase LTC.
Converting a cryptocurrency
Conversion of a cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars or another currency at a gain is a taxable event. This is because it is treated as being sold, thus generating capital gains.
These are considered ordinary income on the day of the air drop. That value will become the basis of the coin. When it’s sold, exchanged, etc., there will be a capital gain which is taxable.
The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation has formally asked the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to create a safe harbor for investment gains realized from cryptocurrency hard forks. We are watching developments here closely.
The mining of coins is considered ordinary income and is equal to the fair market value of the coin the day it was successfully mined. That value will become the basis of the coin. When it’s sold, exchanged, etc., there will be a capital gain which is taxable.
Federal Government Agencies Involved In Cryptocurrency Trading and Taxation
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The Internal Revenue Service or IRS is the US federal agency tasked with collection of tax revenue for the federal government. It has the entire force and power of the United States behind it, and pretty much every citizen has to deal with it at least once a year in one way or another. It’s the entity that’s behind all those deductions in your pay and those quarterly estimated tax payments you make if you’re self-employed. That’s just a quick summary of what IRS is and what it does. So, how is the IRS involved with cryptocurrencies?
As of March 2018, the IRS still treats cryptocurrencies as property. Simply holding cryptocurrency, whether it has gained value or lost value, does not mean that you owe taxes. In order to owe taxes, you would have to sell cryptocurrency, trade for another cryptocurrency, or purchase something with it. These are known as taxable events. Just like the ones we discussed in the previous chapter.
In the years 2017, the 10 best performing cryptocurrencies posted average price gains of more than 14,000 percent compared to the 20 percent returns posted by the stock markets. Despite this increased wealth, the bulk of cryptocurrency traders fail to report their cryptocurrency trading to the IRS.
According to one leading filing service firm, less than 100 of the more than 250,000 (or 0.04 percent) clients whose taxation filing they did reported any cryptocurrency transactions. While the figures of those reporting to the IRS remain extremely low, they are not surprising at all. This is because one of the top reasons why investors dabble in cryptocurrencies is so that they can avoid government regulations and intrusions. So you wouldn’t expect most cryptocurrency investors to be that forthcoming with filing of returns.
However, recent developments involving the IRS have only showed that there will be significant scrutiny for crypto investors who are under-reporting cryptocurrency income and/or gains.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
The Securities and Exchange Commission works to oversee corporate takeovers and to protect investors in the United States. Established by the U.S. government, SEC requires that publicly traded companies disclose their financial information to the general public. The commission also requires investment advisers to specify the volume of managed assets and the services offered. While its primary role and mission remains to protect investors and maintain a fairly and orderly market, its functions can be broken down as follows.
a. Creating Fair Markets
Through a special division, the SEC oversees all market participants such as: clearing agencies, exchanges, security firms and credit rating agencies; with a view to providing a daily overview of market activities. The commission also helps establish new rules and policies by examining and interpreting matters that affect operations within the securities markets.
b. To Look Toward the Future
As more first time investors enter the market and as the economy continues to change, protection remains a fundamental need. SEC works to oversee security
transactions while promoting capital formation that can sustain and improve economic growth. A healthy economy makes it easier for everyday families to get by.
c. Protecting Investors
The SEC, through its Division of Investment Management, looks out for investors by regulating businesses that are engaged in investing. It also protects individual investors with mutual funds by making sure that the information about their potential investments is fully disclosed.
d. Ensuring Corporate Disclosure
The SEC, through its Division of Corporation Finance, implements rules and regulations of the Securities Act. It ensures that corporations provide investor with honest and accurate information about the markets and securities.
e. Enforcing the Law
The SEC, through its Division of Enforcement, brings civil actions against individuals and corporations in court. It gathers evidence from investor tips, surveillance and information from other divisions to determine the nature of certain situations.
With the surge in cryptocurrency trading, the SEC is keen on applying security laws to pretty much everything involving cryptos and virtual currencies; from crypto exchanges to digital asset storage firms – otherwise known as wallets.
Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
The CFTC is an independent U.S. federal agency that regulates the commodity futures and options markets. Its goals include the promotion of competitive and efficient futures markets and the protection of investors against manipulation, abusive trade practices and fraud.
A new challenge facing the CFTC is in relation to new financial technology products and cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. It believes that financial technologies such as: cloud computing, distributed ledgers, algorithmic trading and network cartography – all of which are related to cryptocurrencies – are driving innovation in financial markets across the globe. These technologies have the potential for significant or even transformational impact on CFTC regulated markets and the agency itself. The CFTC plans to play an active role in the oversight of this emerging innovation.
Just recently, a U.S., New York district judge ruled that, “virtual currencies can be regulated by CFTC as a commodity”. The Judge, Jack Weinstein, affirmed that CFTC has the authority to regulate cryptocurrency as a commodity in the absence of federal level rules, and that the law permitted the CFTC to “exercise its jurisdiction over fraud that does not directly involve the sale of futures or derivative contracts”.
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a U.S. Department of Treasury agency that oversees and implements policies to prevent and detect money laundering. The agency accomplishes its goals in the following ways:
✓ It works in partnership with the financial community to deter and detect money laundering. It ensures that banks and other financial institutions maintain records which can then be used as a financial trail for tracking criminals.
✓ It provides intelligence and analytical support to law enforcement and works to maximize information sharing among law enforcement agencies. These reports help them build investigations and plan new strategies to combat money laundering.
In February 2018, FinCEN issued a letter to the public that expresses the agency’s intention to apply its regulations to those who conduct ICO’s. In the letter, it is explained that both developers exchanges involved in the sale of an ICO-derived token would be liable to register as a money transmitter and comply with the relevant statutes around anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) rules.
FinCEN works closely with the SEC and the CFTC to clarify and enforce the obligations of businesses engaged in ICOs activities that implicate the regulatory authorities of these Agencies.
Filing Cryptocurrency Taxes
IRS Notice 2014-21
While virtual currencies may not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction they are still used as ‘real’ currencies in certain environments. The IRS is aware of this and that is why it released Notice 2014-21 to address concerns and provide guidance regarding cryptocurrencies. The IRS maintains that it treats cryptocurrency as property for U.S. Federal tax purposes and as such, general rules for property transactions apply.
According to the notice, “Virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value… but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction”. Virtual currency that has an equivalent value in real currency, or that acts as a substitute for real currency, is referred to as “convertible” virtual currency. An example is Bitcoin currency. The sale or exchange of convertible virtual currency, or the use of convertible virtual currency to pay for goods or services in a real-world economy transaction, has tax consequences that may result in a tax liability. The notice also clarifies that virtual currency is not treated as a currency that can generate foreign currency gain or loss for U.S. federal tax purposes.
According to the notice, a taxpayer who receives digital currency as payment for goods or services must, in computing gross income, include the fair market value of the virtual currency, measured in U.S. dollars, as of the date that the virtual currency was received. If a virtual currency is listed on an exchange and the exchange rate is established by market supply and demand, the fair market value of the virtual currency is determined by converting the virtual currency into U.S. dollars (or into another real currency which in turn can be converted into U.S. dollars) at the exchange rate, in a reasonable manner that is consistently applied.
Documentation is Important
When preparing your tax return, you are going to have to figure out your taxable income from cryptocurrencies for the year. This involves figuring out how much of your crypto assets were converted into non-crypto assets like cash or goods and services as well as other cryptocurrencies. Your cryptocurrency holdings aren’t taxable. Anytime you sold cryptocurrency or used it to buy something, have capital gains exposure.
You’ve already got records of most of those transactions, either on the blockchain or from your wallet provider, but converting it to dollars can be a real hassle since you’ll need to run the value of the cryptocurrency against the price of the crypto at the time of the transaction. First thing’s first, you’ll want to download all transaction data from the exchanges you use, which are usually available as CSV files. Some exchanges like Coinbase send users form 1099-K if they have received at least 20,000 US dollars cash sales of crypto related to at least 200 transactions in a calendar year. However, if you don’t use an exchange, do your best to document every transaction.
If doing cryptocurrency tax is proving to be a challenging feat, you should consider enlisting the services of a qualified CPA at a professional tax firm such as Camuso CPA.
Reporting Capital Gains
If you are like most people who generate capital gains from buying and selling cryptocurrencies at a higher price, then any income from the sales needs to be reported on Schedule D in Form 1040 of the IRS. The tax rates on your cryptocurrency transactions depend on two things:
✓ Method of cryptocurrency acquisition
✓ Length of time you hold the cryptocurrency
Cost Basis for Your Cryptocurrency Investments
How you report the sales will depend on how long ago you bought your cryptocurrency. If you’ve held the crypto for less than a year before transacting with it, it’s taxed as a short-term capital gain, which is still taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. But if you’ve held crypto for longer than a year before using it, it is taxed as a long-term capital gain at lower rates of anywhere from 0 to 20 percent; also, depending on what income bracket you fall under.
As discussed before, the IRS requires that taxpayers report the fair market value of their coins – in a reasonable and consistent manner – on the date of reception. The fair market value reported by a taxpayer disposing of cryptocurrencies should serve as the additional cost basis for the new taxpayer acquiring the currency. This is easier said than done because taxpayers tend to report conflicting cost basis that maximize personal tax advantages.
In early IRS rulings, the agency provided guidance separating traded “convertible” virtual currencies such as Bitcoin from other virtual currencies, noting that only convertible virtual currencies that have an “equivalent value in real currency, or that acts as a substitute for real currency” will be considered taxable.
Determining Cryptocurrency’s Convertibility
There are generally two tests to determine a virtual currency convertibility. They are as follows:
1. Is It Listed and Controlled by Market Supply and Demand Forces?
First taxpayer’s should determine whether a currency is “listed on an exchange and the exchange rate is established by market supply and demand,” which would make it convertible to another “real currency” like the U.S. dollar. This presents a gray area for virtual currencies that are thinly traded on exchanges and only trade with respect to other convertible virtual currencies. Be aware the IRS has made it clear it plans to tax gains on successful convertible virtual currencies retroactively.
2. Is the Value Purely Driven by Speculation?
The second test is to determine whether taxpayers can buy anything tangible with the currency, or if its value is instead driven by speculation. The IRS outlined, “The sale or exchange of convertible virtual currency, or the use of convertible virtual currency to pay for goods or services in a real-world economy transaction, has tax consequences that may result in a tax liability.”
Cryptocurrency traders are permitted to calculate their cost bases using different methodologies. Since currencies are considered private property from a tax perspective, investors have the option to sell their assets on a first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis, a last-in-first-out (LIFO) basis, or to sell those specific tax lots that are most efficient under the “specific share identification” method used for stocks.
The choice of cost basis directly impacts long-term and short-term capital gains tax liabilities. Trading platforms may automatically incorporate FIFO or LIFO tracking methods; however, these are still not efficient. Generally, specific share identification offers the greatest tax planning opportunities and benefits.
This is most likely the tax advantaged approach to tracking a taxpayer’s cost basis but it currently costly to do and often times not possible. Even the top cryptocurrency exchanges and hosted wallets currently lack the accounting software needed to ensure trades are executed in on share by share basis. Individuals must track their own sales, which creates a high level of complexity and time commitment. That’s why you may want to consider hiring a professional tax services firm such as Camuso CPA to help you with this.
Reporting Earnings from Employers or Customers
If you were paid for goods or services in cryptocurrency, it gets taxed as ordinary income. Depending on your income bracket for 2017, the federal tax rate can be anywhere from 10 percent to 39.6 percent. The cryptocurrency will also be subject to state income tax.
Reporting Capital Gains from Investments (Like Kind Exchanges)
In 2018, the new U.S. tax bill bans all like-kind exchanges that aren’t related to real estate. Going forward in 2018 and beyond, like-kind is off the table unless the rules change or the IRS offers clear guidance otherwise. Also, since the tax bill does away with like-kind in 2018, it calls into question the use of like-kind in 2017.
With a lack of IRS guidance, using Section 1031 on cryptocurrency trades is uncertain, and we suggest wrong in almost all facts and circumstances. There is no “substantial authority” for its use, which would be required to avoid tax penalties. Nevertheless, many investors have attempted to use 1031s.
Reporting Income From Cryptocurrency Forks
Certain cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have recently been forked into two digital currencies; namely, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The new bitcoin cash is treated as taxable income on the day of the fork or when the forked coins have saleable value, although the IRS has not yet addressed this event and provided guidance for cryptocurrency forks.
Reporting Income from Cryptocurrency Mining
Any crypto gained through mining is taxed as ordinary income, based on the fair market value of the crypto at the date it was received. Additionally, if the mining counts as a trade or business transaction and you aren’t doing it for an employer but for yourself, you will have to pay the self-employment tax, which stands at 15.3 percent on the first $127,200 of net income and 2.9 percent on any income in excess of $128,400.
Giving or Donating Cryptocurrency
Giving cryptocurrency as a gift or a donation is not a taxable event. However, while the recipient inherits the cost basis, the gift tax still applies if you exceed the gift tax exemption amount. So if you bought 0.1 BTC for $100, when the recipient sells or trades it, they owe taxes on profits over $100. Any time a gift is converted into fiat currency or used to purchase something, it is a taxable event.
Lost or Stolen Cryptocurrency
Gains or losses in cryptocurrency is subject to the rules of any capital gain, and attaches the responsibility to report them on your yearly federal taxes. Here are the reasons why you need to document any loss or theft of cryptocurrency.
i. To Prove You No Longer Have The Asset
If the cryptocurrency you owned appreciated in value over the year, you have an absolute responsibility to pay taxes on those gains. Any losses or theft requires you to perform a thorough, proper, and defensible forensic examination – with the help of a third party – to prove that the asset is no longer in your possession and clear you of the responsibility of paying taxes on the capital gains.
ii. For Positive Tax Implications
If you purchased cryptocurrency during the year, you incurred the cost of the purchase using your income or other asset. If that cryptocurrency is then stolen or lost, it can have positive ramifications on your filings such as reduced taxable Liability.
iii. To Claim Insurance
Because cryptocurrencies has been legally defined as a capital asset, some insurance policies may cover some or all losses related to theft or legitimate loss. However, your insurer will require a thorough documentation of the theft or loss before paying any claims.
iv. To Absolve Yourself of Criminal Activity
For instance, if you suffered theft of crypto at the hands of a hacker, who then went ahead and donated the stolen crypto to fund terrorism, you would definitely be a person of interest to the law enforcement authorities.
Proper documentation of said theft may help clear you of any wrongdoing. A capital loss (non-theft) deduction is limited to $3,000 per year (after net against other capital gains). The disposition of the capital asset (or worthlessness/abandonment) triggers the initial loss year.
Section 1091 wash sale rules only mention securities, not intangible property. The “wash rule” therefore, does not apply to cryptocurrency as it is a rule for stocks.
Since cryptocurrencies are generally classified as property, wash sale regulations should not currently be a concern for investors. This means investors can sell a crypto investment to realize a tax loss, only to buy it back immediately thereafter at a bargain.
Today, wash sales only apply to stocks and securities; so traders are operating in a gray area for now until further IRS clarification is issued.
Foreign Reporting Requirements (FBAR)
If your cryptocurrency account is held abroad where the private keys are owned directly by the exchange, you get double the fun: the value of the account has to be reported to the US Treasury using FinCEN form 114, and to the IRS with the form 8938. US residents and citizens who own less than $10,000 of assets abroad don’t have to report.
Coinbase Summons and Implications for Skipping Out on Filing Cryptocurrency Taxes
The implications for skipping out on cryptocurrency taxes can be quite grave. As a matter of fact, theIRS has gone after crypto tax evaders before as evident in 2016 when the agency requested the Coinbase records of all people who bought Bitcoin in the period 2013 to 2015. In 2015,the agency partnered with a company called Chainanalysis to identify owners of digital wallets who haven’t been paying their bitcoin taxes. To date, Chainanalysis has confirmed that it only has records of about 25 percent of all cryptocurrency addresses. If this is anything to go by, the IRS only seems to be getting started.
The IRS deals with crypto tax evaders like any other tax evader. Should you be found out, they will send you a deficiency notice which you can either pay or contest in a court of law. Plus, they could always catch you in a regular audit. Should the IRS think that you knew about the crypto tax rates and laws but still faked your tax return anyway, it will charge you an additional 75 percent of the underpayment for fraud.
It’s also likely that your accountant won’t sign off on a tax return where you underreported capital gains, due to ethical concerns.
How to Minimize Cryptocurrency Taxes
Donate to Charity
You can donate cryptocurrency to charities that accept cryptocurrencies but you must donate directly to the charity, as selling it first would be taxable. Donating cryptocurrencies to charity can be a smart move; generating a tax deduction for the market value, without having to pay tax on the appreciation.
Depending on the amount of assets you are holding, there may be strategic estate planning opportunities related to your charitable donations and more to significantly minimize your tax burden.
Hold Cryptocurrencies for Long-Term
You can disregard the downturns in cryptocurrency prices and resist any desires to cash out early in order to defer taxation.
The Future of Cryptocurrency Tax
No shrewd upstanding digital currency investor wants to be scrutinized by the IRS. However, in the world of cryptocurrencies it is becoming more evident that this could be a real possibility. While the burden of the blame can be placed on those who fail to report cryptocurrency transaction since it is their duty, some of that burden has to be shouldered by the IRS. How so? Well, the last guidelines that the agency formally provided was way back in 2014. Now, this may seem like just a couple or so years ago but in the world of crypto-assets, a lot of developments occur in just a few months.
Safe Harbor for Cryptocurrency Hard Forks
The American Bar Association’s division of taxation has recently formally requested the IRS to create a safe harbor for investment gains realized from cryptocurrency hard forks because the guidelines on this issue are not quite clear yet. There is lack of clear guidance on how investors should report gains associated with hard forks, which cause a blockchain to split into more than one version and provide current coin-holders with funds on both Chains. The ABA proposes that a hard fork remains a taxable event but the initial value of the forked coin be zero dollars. This way, investors would not have to pay taxes on the market value of the coins unless they later sold or otherwise disposed of them, at which point they would be taxed at full market value as capital gains — not ordinary income.
The Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act
In late 2017, The Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill, was introduced to the House of Representatives for debate. The bill seeks to subject digital currency to a similar tax regime as what currently exists for foreign currency. It would also eliminate a disincentive for people to use bitcoin. It proposes a tax exemption for cryptocurrency transactions under 600 dollars. The bill also calls for the Treasury Department to provide guidelines for reporting on profits and losses tied to digital currencies, which could create a regime that makes it easier for citizens to keep track of their tax obligations. The bill seems to fit with the majority’s top priority which was the recent passing of the Republican Tax Bill. Due to the novel and complicated nature of cryptocurrencies, the best and most efficient way to ensure you have your taxes done properly is to hire a professional CPA knowledgeable about cryptocurrencies.
BONUS: Fundamental Facts about Cryptocurrencies and Taxation in the US
The following are some key points that you need to understand about digital currency and cryptocurrency taxes:
- Trading crypto to crypto is a taxable event and thus needs to be recorded. Every transaction, whether crypto to crypto, crypto to fiat or crypto for goods and/or services needs to be recorded and appropriate taxes paid.
- Cryptocurrency is treated as property for tax purposes. Whether you are holding, mining, investing or paying using crypto, you need to record this and appropriate taxation will be applied.
- The rules about cryptocurrency and crypto taxes – especially ones involving like-kind exchanges are murky at best. If you had any substantial activity in the cryptocurrency space, consider hiring an accountant to help you square up with the IRS at tax time.
- As is with other investment properties, the tax implications on cryptocurrencies can differ depending on how the property is treated ‘in the hands of the taxpayer’.
- Capital gains count toward your total taxable income and affect your tax bracket.
- Independent capital losses and capital gains in a year can be written off against each other.
Well, it is apparent that more clarity is needed from the IRS and hopefully, by the help of congress, the agency will be able to address the concerns raised by cryptocurrency trading. However, one thing remains unchanged; the responsibility of reporting cryptocurrency transactions and filing tax returns falls upon you. Cryptocurrency is a relatively new technology which looks like is here to stay. No doubt it is somewhat complex to the greater majority of people. Therefore, make sure you keep a record of all transactions involving cryptocurrency and when tax season comes, enlist the services of a professional CPA to help you do your reporting and make sure you are not breaking any laws. Paying taxes is not something that most people look forward to but remember losing a lot more money due to fines or doing time in a federal prison is a lot worse.
Here at Camuso CPA, we offer cryptocurrency tax services in Charlotte to clients across the country. Digital currencies are an exciting new currency medium that is fast gaining popularity. However, as a new monetary medium, there is a lot of grey area come tax season. The last thing any good investor wants is to be scrutinized by the IRS, and that is fast becoming a real possibility as cryptocurrencies become more mainstream.
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