Everyone is talking about cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies have become popular alternatives for online payments. Before converting real dollars into cryptocurrency, understand that there are real risks in using cryptocurrencies which is why I am not a fan.
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency, an alternative form of payment created using encryption algorithms. The use of encryption technologies means that cryptocurrencies function both as a currency and as a virtual accounting system. To use cryptocurrencies, you need a cryptocurrency wallet. These wallets can be software that is a cloud-based service or is stored on your computer or on your mobile device.
What are the risks to using cryptocurrency? The market for these digital currencies is very volatile. Since cryptocurrencies don’t need banks or any other third party to regulate them, they are usually uninsured and hard to convert into a form of tangible currency. In addition, since cryptocurrencies are technology-based intangible assets, they can be hacked like any other intangible technology asset. Finally, since you store your cryptocurrencies in a digital wallet, if you lose your wallet, you have lost your entire cryptocurrency investment.
Like just about everything else in finance, crypto saw its prices tank when the Federal Reserve started to raise interest rates to fight rising inflation.
That caught bitcoin’s biggest backers by surprise, many of whom believed the virtual currency would be an inflation hedge, like precious metals. They had predicted bitcoin’s value would rise during a period of high inflation; instead, it was falling.
Generally, the IRS taxes cryptocurrency like property and investments, not currency. This means all transactions, from selling coins to using cryptos for purchases, are subject to the same tax treatment as other capital gains and losses.
Because of this, long-term crypto investors have a valuable opportunity: If they hold onto their coins for at least a year, they can benefit from lower long-term capital gains taxes, which range from 0% to 20%, depending on your income level. Short-term crypto gains on purchases held for less than a year are subject to the same tax rates you pay on all other income: 10% to 37% for the 2022-2023 tax filing season, depending on your tax bracket.
These taxes apply even if you use crypto to make purchases, meaning you may be on the hook for sales tax plus taxes on any gains your crypto has made since you first bought or received it.
You may also owe taxes on crypto if you earn it by mining cryptocurrency or receive it in exchange for goods and services. In these instances, it’s taxed at your ordinary income tax rates, based on the value of the crypto on the day you receive it. (You may owe taxes if you later sell the crypto you mined or received at a profit.)
If all of your crypto transactions occur on one exchange, then, gathering the information you need to report cryptocurrency on your tax return should be easy. If you have crypto transactions across several exchanges, however, things may get more complicated. You’ll need to get a report from each place a transaction occurred or track the transactions yourself.
After you’ve collected all of your crypto transactions, you must report them to the IRS on Form 8949. This form is divided into two sections: short term (for crypto held one year or less) and long term (for crypto held longer than one year).
Recently, the Office of Chief Counsel advised that a taxpayer, who purchased for personal investment cryptocurrency in 2022 for $1 per unit that declined in value to less than one cent per unit at the end of 2022, did not sustain a loss under Code Sec. 165. According to the Chief Counsel’s Office, the taxpayer did not abandon or otherwise dispose of the cryptocurrency and the cryptocurrency was not worthless because it still had value; further, even if the taxpayer sustained a loss under Code Sec. 165, the loss would be disallowed because, under Code Sec. 67(g), miscellaneous itemized deductions were suspended for tax years 2018 through 2025. CCM 202302011.
But it only gets worse. The Office of Chief Counsel also advised that, when a taxpayer donates cryptocurrency for which a charitable contribution deduction of more than $5,000 is claimed, a qualified appraisal is required under Code Sec. 170(f)(11)(C) in order to obtain a charitable contribution deduction. Further, the Chief Counsel’s Office concluded that if a taxpayer determines the value of the donated cryptocurrency based on the value reported by a cryptocurrency exchange on which the cryptocurrency is traded rather than by obtaining a qualified appraisal, the reasonable cause exception in Code Sec. 170(f)(11)(A)(ii)(II) will not excuse noncompliance with the qualified appraisal requirement and the charitable contribution deduction will be disallowed. CCM 202302012.
As I said, I’m not a fan of cryptocurrency.