Taxes on Bitcoin

September 23, 2019 by Steven Kumpf
Bitcoin Tax

With changing times come changing tax concerns. In this modern economy, many people turn to alternative means for employment and payment. Accordingly, a new class of currency is now available, known as crypto​currency. While cryptocurrency is not actually a form of legal tender, it can serve as a medium of exchange. Cryptocurrency (often called “crypto” for short) can include a variety of different currencies such as Lifecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, and even the flippantly named "Dogecoin," drawing its moniker from a viral internet meme featuring a shiba inu dog widely known as "doge." Each offers its own distinct advantages, but the most commonly traded is a token known as Bitcoin.

How is it produced? Cryptocurrency is produced in act called mining, where one's computer is entered into a distributed computing network that validates other cryptocurrency transactions. The user is then rewarded with an amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for the processing power they contributed to the network. Some users create large networks of computers dedicated to this task, with the goal of gaining large quantities of Bitcoin.

How is it taxed? As of a 2014 tax Notice, the IRS has declared that any cryptocurrency with an equivalent cash value is to be treated as property for tax purposes, and transactions are therefore taxable. ​One of the aspects of cryptocurrency that drew in many early adopters was its secure nature; Bitcoin was by design difficult to track. This allowed those with a mind for privacy to conduct their transactions securely. However, it is now considered taxable, and taxpayers must report their Bitcoin-related finances or risk running afoul of the IRS.

What does this mean to the taxpayer? In short:


  • Cryptocurrency is property. If you receive cryptocurrency in exchange for goods or services, the fair market value of the crypto should be included as income on your return.
  • The tax character of any exchange of cryptocurrency (whether for cash, or for goods or services) is determined by whether the Bitcoin is considered a capital asset or not. If it is a capital asset, any gain or loss will be a capital gain or loss; if not, any gain or loss will be an ordinary gain or loss.
  • If a capital gain or loss, the holding period of the cryptocurrency matters. As with all capital assets, crypto held for a period of greater than one year is considered long-term property and is taxed at a more favorable rate.
  • Good record-keeping is critical. Taxpayers mining or trading in cryptocurrency should keep a detailed log of any cryptocurrency events, including the time and date and the fair market value of the cryptocurrency at the time of the transaction.


What's the upside? This all sounds like a lot of hassle, but there is some relief for habitual traders in crypto.


  • The capital losses from Bitcoin transactions can be used to offset capital gains from other dispositions of property. This allows a taxpayer to minimize their tax owed from capital gains.
  • Additionally, net realized losses on Bitcoin transactions can generally be written off, up to a maximum of $3000 in a tax year if the net loss is a capital loss.
  • Expenses incurred while mining Bitcoin, such as the costs of computer hardware and electricity, can be deducted if you are pursuing the activity as a trade or business. But be aware, if pursuing the activity as a trade or business, additional self-employment taxes will be assessed on the fair market value of any Bitcoin received. Also, additional recordkeeping may be needed in order to ensure that any deductions for expenses will be honored. When in doubt, ask your tax pro!


Cryptocurrency is an exciting new way to purchase goods and services. It can be a possible new avenue in which to invest, and some employers have even started giving their employees cryptocurrency as compensation. In these times of rapid change, it is important to stay abreast of new tax laws lest you find yourself on the IRS's naughty list!



Steven Kumpf​
Membership Services Representative


Steven Kumpf is a Membership Services Representative at TaxAudit. In Membership Services, he focuses on providing excellent customer service and a welcoming voice to TaxAudit’s members, and enjoys researching and writing on a variety of tax topics in addition to his regular duties.


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