Tax Blog

Cryptocurrency and the Effect on Our Taxes

Today cryptocurrencies have become a global phenomenon known to most people. While still somehow geeky and not understood by most people, banks, governments and many companies are aware of its importance. In 2016, you‘ll have a hard time finding a major bank, a big accounting firm, a prominent software company or a government that did not research cryptocurrencies, publish a paper about it or start a so-called blockchain-project.

What is a 'Cryptocurrency?'

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its most endearing allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation, https://www.investopedia.com/.

What You Need To Know About Cryptocurrencies and Taxes

For a growing number of investors, cryptocurrency is not only the future of money, but also an attractive and potentially profitable investment asset, though highly risky and volatile. Bitcoin has become the publics most visible and popular cryptocurrency and it is also among the oldest, having first emerged in 2009. Over one year, the market capitalization for bitcoin has increased enormously, from around $7.16 billion in May 2016 to $27.9 billion today. As the price of bitcoin has risen over the last year or so, so has the confidence among investors, including retirement account investors.

From a federal income tax standpoint, bitcoin and other cryptocurrency are not considered “currency.” On March 25, 2014, the IRS issued Notice 2014-21, which, for the first time, set forth the IRS position on the taxation of virtual currencies, such as bitcoin. According to the IRS Notice, "Virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes." The notice further stated, "General tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency."

In other words, the IRS is treating the income or gains from the sale of a virtual currency, such as bitcoin, as a capital asset, subject to either short-term (ordinary income tax rates) or long term capital gains tax rates, if the asset is held greater than twelve months (15% or 20% tax rates based on income). By treating bitcoins and other virtual currencies as property and not currency, the IRS is imposing extensive record-keeping rules and significant taxes on its use.

The IRS tax treatment of virtual currency has created a favorable tax environment for retirement account investors. In general, when a retirement account generates income or gains from the purchase and sale of a capital asset, irrespective of whether the gain was short-term (held less than twelve months) or long-term (held greater than twelve months), the retirement account does not pay any tax on the transaction and any tax would be deferred to the future when the retirement account holder takes a distribution (in the case of a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) plan no tax would be due if the distribution is qualified).

Hence, using retirement funds to invest in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, could allow the investor to defer or even eliminate in the case of a Roth, any tax due from the investment. Note that retirement account investors interested in mining bitcoins versus trading, could become subject to the unrelated business taxable income tax rules if the “mining” constituted a trade or business. Cryptocurrency investments, such as bitcoin, are risky and highly volatile.

Any investor interested in learning more about bitcoin should do their due diligence and proceed with caution. If you have any further questions; give the professionals at the Center a call at (618) 997-3436 or email at info@taxplanning.com for more information on Cryptocurrency could affect you

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