The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2014 decided bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be treated as “property”, meaning they qualify for capital gains treatment similar to traditional assets like stocks and bonds. There are, however, some instances where certain activities involving digital assets are treated as income and therefore subject to income tax.
Capital gains tax events involving cryptocurrencies include:
Income tax events include:
It’s worth noting that any losses incurred from trading can be used to offset your capital gains as well as deduct up to $3,000 off your normal income tax depending on how long you’ve held the assets for (see below). Any additional losses can be carried forward to the next tax year. You do, however, have to show a loss across all assets in a particular class to qualify for a capital gains reduction.
Bob owns a selection of crypto assets and company stocks. His company stocks performed well over the year and Bob made a $10,000 profit, which he cashed out and is subject to capital gains tax. Bob’s crypto assets, however, performed badly, and he lost $14,000. So he decided to cash out.
Because Bob had a net loss across all of his capital assets (crypto and stocks) he’s able to completely offset the capital gains owed for his $10,000 profit to zero, plus use the remaining $4,000 to reduce his ordinary income tax by the maximum amount of $3,000 and carry the remaining $1,000 over to the following year.
In the United States, how much capital gains tax you owe for your crypto activity depends on how long you’ve held your assets and in which income tax bracket you are.
This is divided into two parts:
The significant changes to tax law from December 2017 confused many crypto investors who had been subject to scams, hacks or other ways to lose crypto investments.
The amended law limits personal casualty losses to a “federally declared disaster.”
Many crypto investors and accountants mistakenly thought this limitation would apply to their crypto investments. However, this is not the case, according to the legal team at CryptoTaxAudit.
Crypto investment losses are not “personal casualty losses.” Instead, they are classified as investment losses under tax code 165(c)(ii) because they are “transactions entered into for profit, though not connected with a trade or business.”
As a result, all crypto losses in scams, thefts, or accidents are complete tax losses. These losses can be claimed on form 8949 as $0 proceeds transactions. This means that if you bought one bitcoin for $15,000 and it was stolen through an exchange hack, you would be able to report a loss of $15,000.
Now that you know how your crypto assets are taxed, here’s what you need to do in order to prepare, file and pay your taxes: