How Does Cryptocurrency Taxation Work?

The IRS views cryptocurrency like property; when selling or exchanging it, any gain or loss must be recorded against your cost basis (value at which you received it) when making tax calculations.

Transacting in cryptocurrency creates a taxable event–even when done just for fun! Achieve success when keeping records is knowing which transactions are taxed.


Cryptocurrencies are treated by the IRS like any other asset and must be reported on your tax return accordingly. Any gains you realize from selling crypto for cash, converting it to another cryptocurrency or spending it are subject to taxes. When selling virtual coins you should subtract their cost basis from their fair market value at time of sale to determine any possible profits or losses; then report this information with your taxes as required by IRS regulations.

As soon as you use cryptocurrency in a transaction, its value may increase, creating a taxable event and necessitating taxation on both its dollar amount spent and any increases in value since initial purchase date. You would owe capital gains taxes of $1,200 in this instance – when reporting such events it is also essential to record both its original price and date of purchase so as to monitor any fluctuations in price or growth over time.

Taxes must be withheld on any free virtual coins you receive as income, such as airdrops and hard forks that allow new cryptocurrencies to be distributed free of charge as part of marketing campaigns. Any additional coins you receive count as taxable income; their receipt date can be found by looking at ledger or blockchain timestamp records of transactions.

Long before now, many crypto traders had little regard for their tax implications when purchasing crypto assets. Now however, authorities have started paying more attention and demanding more reporting from exchanges; one reason to keep records of your cryptocurrency activity.

Crypto trading has quickly gained in popularity among investors, prompting governments to provide clear and consistent regulations surrounding how crypto assets should be taxed. Without such frameworks in place, cryptocurrency investments could potentially stall.

Capital Gains

Cryptocurrency investors sometimes forget about the taxes associated with virtual assets like cryptocurrency. While its nature makes cryptocurrency investments seem unfeasible to understand, anyone unfamiliar with its taxation could end up landing themselves in hot water with the IRS and could find themselves facing serious repercussions for doing so.

Contrary to conventional fiat currencies, which do not incur tax consideration when used as payment for goods or services, cryptocurrency transactions require account of both capital gains and losses when exchanged for another cryptocurrency, goods, services or converted directly to cash. Tax considerations regarding cryptocurrency sales resemble asset sales transactions in that gains and losses are reported according to taxpayer cost basis.

Example: If you invest in Bitcoin and it appreciates to $100 in value, when selling or converting to cash you will realize $90 of long-term capital gains that is taxable income depending on your tax rate.

Mining or staking transactions follow similar rules; you can earn income based on your participation and amount of work put into particular blocks. Furthermore, selling crypto investments to investors or centralized exchanges typically involves know-your-customer regulations and withholding taxes.

Additionally, cryptocurrency follows similar rules as other investment assets like stocks and mutual funds: If you hold on to it for over one year, preferential long-term capital gains rates may help offset any losses you experience when trading or investing in crypto assets.

However, crypto differs significantly from other investments: its wash-sale rule doesn’t apply to virtual assets like bitcoin. Therefore, you could sell off positions at a loss and immediately purchase them back again, providing an ideal way of writing off losses in trades involving crypto assets – but legislators are considering closing this tax loophole so as to reduce traders’ ability to take advantage of such a tax benefit.


Cryptocurrency is the new kid on the investment block and tax professionals should understand its implications on client taxes. Like any asset class, cryptocurrency falls under tax rules that must be followed when reporting income earned via this source – therefore any income earned must be reported just like other sources of income.

Crypto gains are taxed as capital gains, depending on whether they were realized quickly or slowly. Tax rates will differ between states but generally, capital gains fall under the same tax bracket as stock sales.

When purchasing or selling crypto, its value in US dollars at the date and time of the transaction must be reported on your tax return as the USD equivalent of its price at that moment in time. This valuation can either be determined using on-chain or off-chain methods; on-chain uses blockchain to establish its price while off-chain uses an exchange rate plus data such as mining fees to calculate it. It is crucial that taxpayers know which method their exchange is employing so their transactions can be recorded correctly.

Note that any time you receive crypto as payment for work or services rendered, this is subject to tax. If you receive $600 in crypto from any non-employee entity in any year from a non-employee entity and expect a Form 1099-NEC as your annual earnings should be reported on your tax return as income.

Many investors purchase crypto for its potential growth; however, any profitable investments must be reported on your tax return as any other investment would. Trading or “hodling” (holding cryptocurrency without selling it) may generate gains – any such activity must also be included as income on your tax return and reported.

TurboTax Online makes filing crypto taxes easy by seamlessly importing this information from all major exchanges – making it simple and straightforward for you to understand and submit them accurately.


Tax systems have struggled to keep up with the rapid innovation and potential anonymity of crypto, leaving tax authorities struggling to categorize cryptocurrency for tax purposes and report obligations for transactions that take place on decentralized exchanges or peer-to-peer trading platforms. Governments are beginning to act to address these issues by instituting standard know-your-customer tracking rules as well as possibly withholding taxes for those trading centralized exchanges – this provides data necessary for accurate taxation enforcement of crypto assets.

Taxing crypto is most easily visible when someone sells it for a profit, which is treated similarly to any capital gain or loss and taxed at either short-term or long-term rates depending on how long someone held their coins for. Furthermore, any time someone uses cryptocurrency to buy goods or services they create a taxable event by exchanging their cryptocurrency for traditional currency and paying sales and value-added taxes as though making purchases with cash alone.

Mining cryptocurrency is also subject to tax, as miners are compensated in cryptocurrency for verifying transactions on the blockchain. Mining income should be taxed as ordinary income unless mining was performed as part of a business activity and can qualify for deductions similar to other expenses incurred for that activity. Rules surrounding exchanging one cryptocurrency for another vary but generally follow IRS guidance which states these exchanges are taxable transactions.

Finally, the IRS has confirmed that airdrops and hard forks are taxable based on their fair market value at time of receipt; exchanges will gather this data and report it to investors via forms such as Form 1099-B.

At the core of all crypto transactions is being open and honest about them. Don’t hesitate to seek clarity if any questions arise regarding rules. Additionally, keep accurate records of cost basis to easily calculate tax liabilities at tax time – doing this will avoid surprises at tax time!