How Does Cryptocurrency Taxation Work?

No matter whether you trade, mine, or spend cryptocurrency – each transaction is considered a taxable event and must be reported. While cryptocurrency taxes have often been overlooked by individuals and investors alike, the IRS has increased enforcement and compliance around this asset class.

Should the value of your cryptocurrency increase, capital gains tax will apply just like with stock assets. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Buying and Selling

When purchasing or selling cryptocurrency for money, the IRS requires reporting. They view crypto assets as capital assets that should be taxed just like stocks or mutual funds when sold at a profit based on changes from initial purchase price compared with cost basis, so any difference between sale price and cost basis determines your owed taxes.

Purchase and holding cryptocurrency are not taxable events on their own, even if their value increases, but there must be an event which triggers you to pay taxes – such as selling it. When selling cryptocurrency you should report its sale when exchanging for something else or using it to purchase goods or services – or receiving payment from an employer as compensation or reward from taking part in cryptocurrency business venture.

Many people fail to appreciate it, but any time someone uses crypto as currency to purchase anything can result in a taxable event. Even something as minor as going to Starbucks and spending $1-$2 of Bitcoin could trigger one depending on its fair market value at the time of transaction, according to Chandrasekera.

Cryptocurrency mining is another taxable activity. You must report the fair market value of any coins mined as income on your taxes and deduct them as business expenses – although there may be limitations on how much can be claimed as deductions. It’s wise to consult an experienced accountant or tax professional regarding these details before beginning mining activities.


Cryptocurrency owners need to keep an accurate record of their costs and values to determine if they have a tax liability. While keeping meticulous records can be a tedious task, software tools exist that can make this task simpler.

For instance, when selling crypto for cash or another cryptocurrency, any gain is subject to the standard long-term capital gains tax rate – either 0%, 15% or 20% depending on your income level. Furthermore, any gains realized from using rising value crypto to purchase goods or services is taxed at standard sales tax rates.

But simply buying and holding crypto does not trigger taxes; only when trading, disposing, or spending it can a profit or loss be recognized and taxed accordingly. This happens when exchanging it for other currencies or cryptocurrencies or selling it for cash can you realize any profit or loss which triggers taxes; such transactions must also be reported so your cost basis (what you paid initially for coins) and current market value in dollars are compared in order to determine any taxable gain or loss.

At the same time, it is important to know how the IRS sees mining crypto or receiving rewards for staking and other activities as potentially tax-liable events. Mining as a business incurs self-employment tax rates while rewards from mining or staking usually need to be reported as income on your tax return.

Cryptocurrency taxes may seem complex, but understanding them will equip you to make better investment and spending decisions. The IRS is making efforts to enforce crypto compliance, including enforcement of reporting requirements when owning and using cryptocurrency. Therefore, be aware of digital asset tax liabilities whether investing or paying with digital coins; seek professional advice if any questions arise; Sarah Chandrasekera of McGuire Woods LLP’s Washington office offers expert tax legal advice if needed.


Cryptocurrency can be used for many different purposes, from payments for goods and services to purchasing virtual currencies with real currency or goods. When exchanging virtual currency for tangible items or real currency or goods, your tax liability could depend on their value versus your cost basis in cryptocurrency. As it’s classified by the IRS as property and taxes it accordingly when sold, capital gains tax must also be applied when selling this virtual currency – therefore tracking all your transactions carefully using crypto tax software is key in order to calculate profit accurately.

Example: if you buy cryptocurrency and then exchange it for land, your short-term capital gain would be at least $2,000. Likewise, any profit realized from spending cryptocurrency will be taxed at its fair market value.

Tax losses may arise when selling cryptocurrency for less than its original cost, though this loss can be mitigated using the wash-sale rule, which permits you to sell an asset and immediately repurchase it again, while still claiming a tax loss. Unfortunately, however, lawmakers have taken aim at this loophole and may soon close it down.

Reaping rewards from staking cryptocurrency can also provide another source of income from it, similar to interest earned on savings accounts. Your reward amount is subject to tax at its fair market value upon receiving it and may also be subject to income and self-employment tax liabilities.

At a time when cryptocurrency has opened up new avenues of investment and spending, it’s vitally important that investors understand their tax obligations when using virtual currency. As the industry matures, the IRS is working hard to enforce compliance; keeping an eye on any cryptocurrency activities not reported. Blockchain-based wallets and exchanges can help regulators identify unreported activity while major exchanges provide information which allows the IRS to match unknown wallets with known individuals in order to combat tax fraud.


Cryptocurrency investments have quickly become popular, yet its tax status can vary. Like other investments such as stocks or real estate, cryptocurrency investors must pay taxes on gains and losses incurred from buying it; however, one unique feature sets cryptocurrency apart: crypto is often considered a capital asset instead of wages which allows investors to realize gains without selling it, leading to some peculiar tax rules that must be observed when tax returns are filed.

Similar to stocks, cryptocurrency gains and losses are taxed based on their fair market value at the time of sale; this figure is known as your cost basis. Furthermore, you may deduct costs related to mining equipment used for cryptocurrency mining such as computer hardware and software costs.

The IRS is also working toward stricter reporting requirements for American exchanges, employing contractors such as Chainalysis to detect those who are hiding profits from crypto transactions. Major exchanges provide them with data which identifies anonymous wallets associated with known individuals – with penalties being enforced against anyone failing to report earnings of cryptocurrency.

One reason many traders do not report their cryptocurrency gains and losses is due to certain loopholes that provide an unfair advantage. For instance, cryptocurrency does not fall under the wash-sale rule, enabling traders to sell at a loss before purchasing it back immediately at a reduced price – although legislators are working on closing this loophole and it should soon be compulsory for traders to declare any crypto losses they incur.

Cryptocurrency‘s popularity is surging, with millions of Americans becoming involved. Although tracking crypto investments may be challenging at first glance, the IRS is quickly adapting and expanding enforcement, audits, and regulations related to cryptocurrency investments. Therefore, it’s essential that you remain abreast of your cryptocurrency tax obligations to avoid costly penalties imposed by regulators – so if you’re involved with this booming industry be sure to follow these tips for effectively managing cryptocurrency taxes so you can focus on building out this exciting new investment type!