Crypto taxes have been one of the most important topics of concern for the government in the United States. Sources reveal that last November, the taxing agency in the States worked relentlessly hard in the crypto domain.
The Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that they were working on building “hundreds” of crypto cases. IRS is the revenue service of the U.S. federal government, which is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory tax law.
Jim Lee, the head of the Criminal Investigation Division, said, “in the last three years, I’ve seen a shift in digital asset investigations.” According to him, previously, most were related to money laundering, but now tax cases make up for approximately half.
Notably, the IRS created a new Office of Cyber and Forensic Services in 2022 and merged its digital asset investigation, cybercrime investigation, digital forensics, and physical forensics support divisions. Lee also opined that the newly built office can trace any crypto transactions, so people must be serious about taxes.
So if there was ever a time to take your crypto taxes seriously — it’s now.
The tax season in the U.S., wherein the taxpayers must file their federal income tax returns for the previous year with the IRS, begins on January 1st and ends on April 15th. In the U.S., crypto-assets are taxed as income and capital gains. Per the rules, crypto gains, losses, and income must be reported on Form 8940 & Schedule D. Taxes on capital gains are calculated based on the cost of acquiring assets and their sale price. Hence, if someone makes a profit, they should pay tax on the difference.
Notably, there are different rules for receiving crypto as income, that is, if an individual is earning crypto as a payment for a job. The income tax also allows participating in staking reward programs, but these rules are usually more complicated and must be well-read.
According to data from a crypto tax platform, about 15% of crypto traders don’t know that the asset is taxable. Another survey suggested that in 2022, only 58% of crypto investors included their crypto in their tax returns; however, this marked a 4% increase compared to the year before.
The IRS tends to audit approximately two years behind, meaning any previous non-compliance with IRS rules may be picked up down the track.Danny Talwar, Head of Tax at a Crypto firm
Unsurprisingly, not paying taxes is a federal offense, but there is also a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is the process of legally reducing your tax bill. The penalties for tax evasion are up to 75% of the tax due (up to $100,000) and five years behind bars.
The entire U.S. government has become very efficient in finding one’s crypto holdings. Sources reveal that multiple agencies, including intelligence services, collaborate with blockchain analysis firms like Chainalysis to track crypto associated with malicious intents. Hence, other agencies might know even if the IRS misses out on the crypto information.
Notably, the IRS is paying more attention to crypto on everyone’s tax forms. From this year, form 1040 will be asking if the U.S. taxpayers held any digital assets in the past year.
Talwar also cautions investors about the methods of the IRS and says that the taxing agency knows about everyone’s crypto holdings.
The IRS knows about your crypto already; crypto exchanges are compelled to share customer data with the IRS. In November 2022, the IRS confirmed it’s building hundreds of cases relating to crypto tax evasion.
He reminds us that public blockchains’ data are inherently traceable; hence, people must be upfront about their taxes. He adds that the IRS can request powers to dig into exchange transactions and can use blockchain tracing technology to track crypto in audits and investigations.
Talwar reminds us that 2022 was a terrible year for the crypto markets, which may be reflected in the investors’ portfolios; however, this can be beneficial for the tax bill. He says:
Many investors’ portfolios are in the red, particularly those who started crypto trading in 2021. For those sitting on losses this year, they may believe that they have no tax obligations. However, declaring losses can be useful to carry forward these losses against gains over future financial years.
Sources reveal that from this year, crypto investors are not permitted by the IRS to report their lost or stolen crypto as a capital loss. This is due to eliminating tax deductions for casualty and theft losses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As a result, if you have lost your crypto due to a scam, hack, or losing your private keys, you will not be able to claim a deduction on your taxes.
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February 17, 2023