Tax Implications of Cryptocurrency Transactions

Tax Implications of Cryptocurrency Transactions

April 4, 2024 0 By Ellice Whyte

When purchasing or selling cryptocurrency, income tax may be due based on its fair market value at the time and day of your transaction – this applies equally for on-chain and off-chain deals.

Airdrops generate taxable events when you receive new virtual coins, which are considered ordinary income. Because the IRS can match wallet addresses on major exchanges to individual accounts and track crypto activity, avoiding taxes is difficult.

Capital Gains and Losses

Crypto traders frequently make the mistake of thinking the IRS cannot see their crypto transactions, which could prove costly as failure to report income, gains or losses can incur fines and interest charges for unpaid taxes.

Tax liability arises when the value of goods, services or real currency received for cryptocurrency exceeds your cost basis in that cryptocurrency. Ordinary rates on short-term capital gains (up to 37 percent in 2023) will apply; long-term gains will vary according to income.

If your cryptocurrency loses value while in your hands, one advantage it offers over traditional assets like stocks or property is being exempt from the wash sale rule – making harvesting tax benefits simpler by selling and repurchasing immediately afterward.


Though cryptocurrency assets are often seen as anonymous and secure investments, the IRS and other authorities can easily track them back to their owners via the digital ledger that holds your cryptocurrency wallet. It records all transactions and their values in real time making it simple for authorities to link individual wallet addresses back to their owners.

Cryptocurrency is considered property by the IRS and therefore any sales and exchanges of cryptocurrency are subject to capital gains taxes or other income tax rules, depending on how long you own the currency before selling it. Companies paying you in crypto must issue you both and the IRS a Form 1099-MISC detailing these payments.

Enhance data collection requirements for cryptocurrency transfers pose an intractable problem for policymakers. On one hand, these measures could boost tax revenue by encouraging legitimate activity within this burgeoning sector; yet at the same time they may push some market participants offshore in order to avoid additional government scrutiny, potentially hurting an industry which supports millions of jobs worldwide.


Though cryptocurrency transactions may seem less straightforward than purchasing something with cash, the IRS treats them as taxable events. When purchasing new coins and selling old ones for more than you paid is considered selling and is subject to capital gains taxes; similarly, spending cryptocurrency on goods or services counts as spending it and should also be reported as such an event.

Airdrops associated with cryptocurrency can create unexpected tax liabilities. As they are taxable, recipients must declare the value of free tokens they received on their tax return – this may prove challenging as its price can fluctuate frequently and certain airdrops aim to pump up illiquid tokens before selling them back on the market.

IRS has taken proactive steps to enforce tax compliance in the cryptocurrency space, making accurate records essential to avoid penalties. Anyone involved with cryptocurrency should also be mindful of potential tax liabilities and seek guidance when needed.


Cryptocurrency trading can be highly unpredictable, leading both consumers and regulators to express concern. Tax issues only compound these worries.

Although cryptocurrency transactions remain anonymous, the IRS still needs to find ways of including them into their tax system – no easy feat given rapid innovation and lack of data available.

Mining involves validating transactions and adding them to a blockchain ledger, in exchange for which miners receive cryptocurrency rewards that are taxed based on their fair market value at the time of reward accrual. Staking rewards rewarded from simply holding certain cryptocurrencies are treated like mining earnings; meaning their earnings become taxable in the year you gain control, subjecting themselves to both income taxation and self employment taxes.