The hidden tax consequences of cryptocurrency

Share
stack of cryptocurrencies above circuit board

You may recognize the name Bitcoin and maybe even Ethereum, but what about Litecoin, Dogecoin or Ripple? These are just some of the more than 4,500 cryptocurrencies available today. There are hidden tax complications, however, associated with every cryptocurrency transaction. Here’s what you need to know.

Every Transaction has a Tax Consequence

The IRS treats cryptocurrency as investment property, like stock, and taxes every transaction as a capital gain or loss. When you pay for something in the traditional manner with U.S. dollars, the IRS doesn’t care what the value of the dollar is at the time of the transaction. For virtual currency purposes, however, the value matters. For example, assume you buy Bitcoin for $10 and two months later the market value of that Bitcoin grows to $15 and you spend that $15 worth of Bitcoin to buy something, you'll have a $5 taxable short-term gain that needs to be reported on your tax return. If you spend a lot of cryptocurrency, tracking the gains and losses can be very complicated.

Big Gains Means Big Taxes, but Big Losses may be Limited

In classic IRS form, there is no cap on the amount of taxes you might owe in a single year for gains on the value of cryptocurrencies you sell, while losses might take many years to recoup because of the annual $3,000 loss limit against income. Adding to the complexity, virtual currencies have dramatic valuation changes...much more so than most traditional investment securities. So you will need to budget appropriately for the taxes you’ll owe whenever you use or sell cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency puts you on the IRS's Radar

Being relatively new, virtual currency has caused the IRS to become very concerned about potential mistakes and fraud related to how cryptocurrency is reported on tax returns. The IRS is so concerned about you not reporting cryptocurrency activity that the very first question of your tax return, right beneath where you put your name and address, asks if you took part in any virtual currency transactions over the past year.

You are Responsible for Bookkeeping

With the IRS watching so closely, it’s important to be accurate with your recordkeeping so you can properly report all virtual currency gains and losses on your tax return and substantiate all your transactions in the event of an audit.


Share
Disclaimer

The information in this article is written as accurately as possible and to best of the writer's knowledge. However, there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes. Because of this and changes in circumstances, the information in this article is subject to change. This article is for informational purposes only and should not serve as professional, financial, medical, emotional, and/or legal advice. Readers may rely on the information on this article at their own risk, but they should consult a CPA, financial expert, or other professional for advice. Givilancz & Martinez, PLLC reserves the right to change and handle this article series, and therefore, may remove or alter any part of this article or the comments section. Any comments inserted by readers are not the responsibility of G&M PLLC and do not represent the thoughts or ideas of G&M PLLC.