Cryptocurrency might seem like an unpredictable investment, but it still falls under tax law. Understanding your cryptocurrency tax obligations will help to avoid unexpected surprises and stay compliant.
Each time you exchange cryptocurrency for goods or services or real currency, a tax liability arises. Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains and lower overall tax liability.
Taxes on Gains
Cryptocurrency transactions may generate gains or losses that must be reported and taxed like any investment. For example, if you spend or sell cryptocurrency for more than its cost to purchase it, this profit must be subject to ordinary income tax rates or capital gains tax rates depending on how long you owned the crypto. Likewise, any cryptocurrency received as payment for goods and services provided, including bitcoin airdrops or mining rewards from networks can be considered taxable income based on market value at the time it was received as payment.
Additionally, when exchanging cryptocurrency for cash or units of another cryptocurrency, the resulting transaction is taxed as its market value at that moment determines its cost basis (cost basis for tax purposes). As such, keeping track of your crypto purchases and sales history accurately is absolutely crucial to avoid tax penalties.
Taxes on Losses
Although cryptocurrency transactions may appear virtual, their profits or losses have real tax ramifications and it’s crucial that accurate records and costs analyses be kept.
Cost basis refers to the original purchase price of cryptocurrency assets, so when selling, trading or disposing of them your capital gains and losses are calculated using the difference between sale price and cost basis. The IRS uses either the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method or specific identification method to track investments and track cost bases accurately.
As well as capital gains taxes, cryptocurrency-related earnings may also require you to pay ordinary income tax. The exact amount depends on how long you owned the cryptocurrency and your tax filing status; short-term gains are subject to ordinary income tax rates while long-term capital gains have reduced capital-gains rates. As with other forms of income, cryptocurrency earnings must be reported on your tax return.
Taxes on Transfers
Cryptocurrency owners must disclose any gains or losses associated with any transactions where digital assets were exchanged for tangible goods, services, or cash – such as selling cryptocurrency for cash or another digital asset; accepting payment in cryptocurrency form for goods and services provided; mining cryptocurrency; etc.
If you sell cryptocurrency at more than its original purchase price (cost basis), any profits are subject to taxes and capital gains or losses may be recognized depending on whether they were short or long term sales transactions.
If you accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services, your tax liability is calculated based on its fair market value in U.S. dollars on the date of receipt minus your cost basis in cryptocurrency provided in exchange. Accurate recordkeeping and accurate calculation is critical when handling this type of transaction; many crypto investors use software integrated into exchange accounts to facilitate these calculations more easily.
Taxes on Distributions
The IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, so any profit made when selling cryptocurrency must be reported and taxed similarly to selling stock. If your investments have been held for at least one year before selling them immediately, your long-term capital gains rate can be much lower – while when spending it with merchants accepting cryptocurrency payment it could potentially count as wages subject to Social Security, Medicare and federal income tax withholding taxes.
Cryptocurrency taxes can be complex. Their calculation relies on multiple triggers, including when you purchase, trade or dispose of cryptocurrency investments; transaction fees could also have an effect on how much tax is due; therefore it’s wise to seek professional advice regarding your circumstances before making decisions based on them alone.