Anyone who wants to buy Bitcoin should know that the coins will be taxable. There are no exceptions to this rule, and the IRS will go after delinquent taxpayers.
However, the IRS is one of the most difficult federal bureaucracies to deal with. When it comes to cryptocurrency, it is hard to know when taxes are owed and how to pay them. This guide contains essential information to help cryptocurrency owners, or potential owners, who do not know how to get the tax reporting season on the right track.
How Do Cryptocurrency Taxes Work?
The tax authority views crypto coins like Bitcoin or Ether as digital assets that represent value and act as the exchange means. When it comes to charging taxes, it is treated as property. Charges on whatever cryptocurrency is owned are based on the amount of gross income that one gains from crypto coins.
For crypto coins to be taxable, the owner must have dominion and control of it. If a trader receives a coin and can execute trades, they have dominion and control. If the owner has cryptocurrency in a wallet, but they are not able to trade, sell, buy, or exchange it, they do not have control or dominion over the coins. In this case, cryptocurrency cannot be taxed.
Here is a real-life example. (1) Brian received one unit of cryptocurrency worth $40 on June 1st, 2020. The transaction is recorded in the distributed ledger, and Brian is able to buy, sell, and trade the cryptocurrency. This means that Brian received $40 of gross income. That amount is taxable. However, if Brian receives the same amount of cryptocurrency, but for whatever reason, he cannot use it, that cryptocurrency is not taxable because he does not control it.
There are instances when cryptocurrency is not taxed. Transferring cryptocurrency from one exchange to another is not taxable. Purchases are also not taxable. Gifts of cryptocurrency are not counted as income; however, if they later produce income, that income is taxable. Also, if cryptocurrency is received as part of an inheritance to satisfy an heir’s right to an estate’s income, it is treated as income from the property and is taxable.
Are Cryptocurrency Losses Tax-Deductible?
As with trading stocks, losses incurred by trading cryptocurrency must be reported to the tax authority. It can then provide relief based on those losses in the form of a tax refund. Taxpayers are allowed to deduct $3,000 per year or $1,500 for those who are married and file separately. For example, someone who loses $6,000 in 2020 can make two $3,000 deductions for two consecutive years to cover the losses.
How to File Cryptocurrency Taxes
All income derived from cryptocurrency must be reported. In 2019, the IRS included a question in Form 1040 asking taxpayers about income derived from cryptocurrency. Taxpayers who have profited from cryptocurrency should answer “yes.” Cryptocurrency owners must also file an IRS 8949 capital gains and losses report.
The best way to file taxes accurately is to hire a professional to do it. Several firms specialize in tax preparation and filing, such as H&R Block. There is also TaxBit, which is tax preparation software uniquely designed for taxpayers who own cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency owners can also hire a private accountant to assist with tax reporting and filing.
Will the IRS Call Me if There is a Discrepancy in My Taxes?
The IRS will contact anyone they believe owes them money. Typically, the IRS will contact cryptocurrency owners if they failed to file IRS form 8949 for reporting gains or losses. The IRS has created a team to search the blockchain for delinquent taxpayers. Anyone who has not reported their gains or losses will be audited. Taxpayers who are audited should seek the assistance of a tax attorney. An attorney can work on the taxpayer’s behalf to resolve the dispute and possibly reduce the amount owed.
The IRS will send a notice to anyone it plans to audit. This notice will contain the taxpayer’s identifying number, a return address, a phone number, and information about why the taxpayer was contacted. Anyone who receives such a letter should contact the IRS to find out if this is a legitimate audit or attempt to collect taxes. Such notices may be an attempt at fraud. If fraud is suspected, inform the IRS and do not speak to them or police, especially the FBI, without an attorney present.
Closing Thoughts on the IRS and Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency traders must do everything they can to remain IRS-compliant. The main things to do in order to stay off their radar are to file form 1040 every tax season and form 8949 for reporting gains and losses.