How Does Cryptocurrency Taxation Work?

Cryptocurrency traders owe taxes when they sell cryptocurrency for more than they paid for it, or when their cryptocurrency purchases are used to purchase goods and services which is then taxed like any cash purchase.

When selling crypto for fiat currency, subtract your cost basis from the sale amount to determine your taxable profit or loss and report this on your taxes.


Cryptocurrency is an asset used for transactions. However, its price can fluctuate considerably and create challenges to tax systems. Although regulators are working on ways to incorporate cryptocurrency assets into existing tax rules more seamlessly; cryptocurrency owners should understand their potential tax liabilities in advance so as to comply with IRS regulations in a timely fashion.

Contrary to currencies, which are subject to federal income taxes, cryptocurrencies are treated by the IRS as property, which means any profit made when selling or exchanging one is subject to taxes. Your taxable amount depends on both its price of sale or exchange and your cost basis; your cost basis refers to how much money was paid out when purchasing and exchanging cryptocurrency – therefore if you held onto one for an extended period, its cost basis could become substantial – therefore keeping records and tracking your costs is essential for keeping accurate accounts.

When selling or exchanging cryptocurrency for other goods and services, you will be required to calculate capital gains or losses and keep records. You should also follow IRS regulations regarding reporting and paying capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies – though some of their rules can be confusing they exist to protect investors and prevent fraud.

There are various methods for calculating cryptocurrency taxes, but one of the most widely used approaches is known as first-in, first-out (FIFO). This ensures that coins purchased first will be sold first to maximize your capital gains and minimize capital losses when selling your coins. Other techniques, like last-in first-out (LIFO), may lead to greater capital losses when selling your cryptocurrency.

Another difficulty associated with cryptocurrency taxation is the lack of standard recordkeeping practices. Though some exchanges issue Forms 1099-MISC, 1099-B, and 1099-K, it’s up to you to report your earnings from cryptocurrency. There are various online filing services for filing cryptocurrency taxes; if these methods don’t suit you then it might be wiser to hire a professional accountant so as to be assured your returns are accurate and complete.


Since Bitcoin launched in 2009, the cryptocurrency market has experienced exponential growth with over 16,000 different variants available for trading. While this burgeoning industry presents many opportunities for consumers, taxation authorities face considerable difficulties dealing with transactions conducted on anonymous platforms that frequently change values; governments must now play catch-up in terms of taxing these currencies properly.

IRS considers cryptocurrency to be property, so when sold it creates a capital transaction and tax liability similar to selling shares of stock or real estate. Tax liability can be calculated using either first-in, first-out (FIFO) or last-in, first-out (LIFO).

As with the purchase of cryptos, when spent they also create a taxable event and liability. Spending cryptos to purchase goods or services will result in the sale of tokens at their dollar equivalent value; your tax liability for spending tokens will equal the difference between what the merchant charged for them versus your purchase price of tokens.

As cryptocurrency markets expand, more people will likely sell their coins to cash out and this could increase taxable gains and necessitate more rigorous reporting requirements; prompting some investors to move away from centralized exchanges in favor of peer-to-peer platforms which don’t notify tax authorities as often.

Brian Harris of Fogarty Mueller Harris PLLC in Tampa, Florida notes that investing in cryptocurrency may have similar tax ramifications as other assets such as real estate or stocks. To accurately calculate their tax liability, traders are encouraged to keep a record of their “cost basis,” or the total amount they paid for tokens, to calculate tax liability. He suggests using crypto tax software that automatically tracks their basis and creates reports suitable for filing with the IRS.


Cryptocurrency taxation can be intricate, especially in relation to airdrops. The IRS typically considers any new tokens or coins deposited into a taxpayer’s wallet as taxable income, although its treatment depends on each taxpayer’s circumstances; for instance if they received airdropped cryptocurrency as part of an exchange contest on social media then that token counts as income at the point of receipt.

As soon as a taxpayer receives new cryptocurrency, its underlying value lies with their cost basis and not when sold or spent. If tokens are later sold at higher prices and subject to capital gains tax – similar to how stock appreciation taxes work. Therefore, it’s essential that they track their cost basis and report all their income accurately.

Cryptocurrencies have quickly gained in popularity, yet many investors do not fully comprehend their tax obligations when investing. Unfortunately, investors who fail to report their cryptocurrency holdings face penalties from the IRS; luckily there are companies such as CoinLedger which provide fast reporting solutions reducing audit risk by reporting instantly.

Another difficulty of cryptocurrency taxes lies in tracking transactions, as cryptocurrency transactions typically occur on decentralized exchanges that do not share transaction data with the IRS. Nonetheless, enforcement and surveillance efforts for potential cryptocurrency tax evasion has increased over time and third-party services like Chainalysis have been utilized by them to match anonymous wallets with investors.

Taxing cryptocurrency investments isn’t only difficult to track; they also present multiple tax implications at once. An investor could potentially incur capital gain or income taxes upon selling his/her cryptocurrency holdings; additionally, investors may need to file form 8949 and receive 1099s from exchanges; therefore it’s essential for traders to understand all aspects of crypto taxes before engaging professional assistance for advice and consultation on these matters.


Cryptocurrency exchanges do not fall under the same taxation rules as stock brokers, yet must still report income for certain activities and adhere to IRS capital gains and losses rules; these rules determine how much tax is due on sales as well as which activities trigger tax obligations for individuals. It’s wise for cryptocurrency traders to consult a tax professional as accurate accounting can only come through accurate calculations.

Crypto traders and investors must monitor their cryptocurrency cost basis (purchase price) in order to minimize tax liabilities, and they need to know its value at sale time for capital gain or loss calculations. Tracking cost basis can be challenging when trading across multiple platforms; many traders use software built into exchange platforms but tracking your costs may prove more challenging.

Any time you sell cryptocurrency, it must be reported to the IRS. When selling, its fair market value at the time of sale must be taken into consideration and any fees related to buying the coin need to be reported as well.

If you sell cryptocurrency at a profit, taxes must be withheld from the difference between its sale price and your cost basis. Conversely, losses can be deducted when filing taxes; unfortunately though this makes calculating tax liability difficult without proper records; tax loss harvesting could help offset capital gains to reduce tax liabilities and provide potential opportunities.

Cryptocurrencies present governments with many challenges as their popularity expands, especially tax systems trying to catch up with them. Due to the speed and anonymity of cryptocurrencies’ development, some tax systems are having trouble keeping pace. It may be difficult defining cryptocurrencies as property subject to capital gains tax or currencies subject to sales/VAT taxes such as VAT; but this issue can be overcome with clear policies such as centralized exchanges that adhere to standard know-your-customer rules as well as withholding taxes that could apply depending on their jurisdictional designation.