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Crypto and bitcoin taxes in the US

Did you sell, use, or convert crypto in 2018? If so, you may owe taxes if you’re a US taxpayer. Here’s a look at what that could mean, the steps you may have to take, what forms you’ll need, and how gains and losses may affect your taxes.

First, let’s get this out of the way.

Coinbase doesn’t provide tax advice. We put this guide together for informational purposes only and it shouldn’t be considered tax advice or an individualized recommendation. Please consult a tax-planning professional regarding your personal tax circumstances.

The million- dollar crypto question

1.1 Do I have to pay crypto taxes?

At Coinbase, we see crypto as the foundation for tomorrow’s open financial system — but it’s also a part of today’s traditional one. To make taxes easier, the IRS has issued crypto tax guidance.

In 2017’s tax season, we received a lot of questions from crypto newbies and experienced customers alike. We get it — paying bitcoin taxes and other crypto taxes can be confusing. And while we can’t give tax advice, we want to make crypto easier to buy, use, sell, and use. This guide is our way of helping you better understand your 2018 crypto tax obligations.

There’s a lot of conflicting content out there, but make no mistake: you are required to report gains and losses on each cryptocurrency transaction or when you earn cryptocurrency, even if there is no gain or loss or the gain or loss is not material. Regardless of whether an exchange sends tax forms to you and the IRS, the IRS holds you responsible for reporting all income and transactions. Exchanges like Coinbase provide transaction history to every customer, but only customers meeting certain mandated thresholds will also receive an IRS Form 1099-K.

One quick note if you’re a non-US investor: crypto taxes are treated differently country-to-country. This guide only covers the US in 2018. Be sure to consult a local country tax advisor to confirm your tax reporting obligations.

In a nutshell.

All crypto sells, conversions, payments, donations, and earned income are reportable by US taxpayers

The reason that buying and selling crypto is taxable is because the IRS identifies crypto as property, not currency. As a result, tax rules that apply to property (but not real estate tax rules) transactions, like selling collectible coins or vintage cars that can appreciate in value, also apply to bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.

To no one’s surprise, the IRS isn’t kidding around. Failure to report income, including income from the sale of bitcoin, ethereum, or other crypto, could result in interest on unpaid taxes and a number of penalties. Please consult with a tax-planning professional regarding your individual reporting obligations.

With all that in mind, here’s our list of five steps you can take to help you understand if you may need to pay crypto taxes, how to determine the amount, and what forms you may need. Let’s dive in.

Steps to take

2.1 Determine if you owe crypto taxes

Even if you’re in the “Just HODL it” camp, it’s worth evaluating your crypto transactions in 2018 to determine if you may owe taxes.

What’s taxable

In short, a lot. Even if you’re in the "just HODL it" camp, it’s worth evaluating your transactions. Here are some examples of taxable crypto events:

Selling crypto for cash

In other words, realizing the gain on your crypto property (don’t forget losses could help with your tax bill)

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