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San Jose tax compliance lawyer for cryptocurrencyThe use of virtual currencies has become more and more widespread in recent years, especially in the Silicon Valley area. Many people and businesses invest in and trade cryptocurrencies and use them to make purchases or pay employees. As financial activity in this area continues to increase, the IRS has taken note, and it is taking steps to make sure taxpayers properly report these transactions and pay applicable taxes on the income they earn and the gains of their investments. Some recent developments have shown that those who own virtual currencies will want to make sure they are meeting the requirements under the tax laws.

IRS Clarifies Reporting Requirements for Virtual Currency

Those who have begun to file their tax returns for 2020 may have noticed that a new question has been added to Form 1040 asking “At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?” This indicates that the IRS will be monitoring these transactions and taking action to collect taxes that are owed. However, taxpayers have faced some uncertainty about exactly what types of transactions need to be reported. Recently, the IRS offered some clarification by stating that those who purchased cryptocurrencies using “real” currencies do not need to answer “yes” to this question. 

For other types of transactions, virtual currencies are treated as property. When selling or exchanging cryptocurrencies, a taxpayer will need to recognize any capital gains or losses based on their basis in the cryptocurrency (the amount paid to acquire it, including fees or commissions) and the amount they received in exchange for the virtual currency. Those who receive cryptocurrency as wages or as payment for services must treat the virtual currency as income based on its fair market value at the time it was received.

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San Jose, CA tax lawyer, virtual currency taxes, cryptocurrencies, taxable property, cryptocurrency transactionsIn recent months, the news has been filled with discussion of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum. As these virtual currencies increase in value, many people are looking to invest in them. However, even though digital currencies can be exchanged for goods or services, or paid to employees as income, they are not the same as legal tender. This has resulted in a great deal of confusion as to how virtual currencies are treated under the United States tax laws.

Cryptocurrencies, Property, and Capital Gains

“Convertible” virtual currencies that have an equivalent value in real currency and can be exchanged into U.S. dollars are taxable as property, similar to other capital assets such as stocks or bonds. In general, capital gains taxes apply when these currencies are bought or sold, including when they are converted into cash, when one type of currency is traded for another virtual currency, or when digital currency is exchanged for other property. Any gains or losses are based on the fair market value of the currency at the time it was acquired and at the time of its sale or trade. 

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