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Only 802 People Paid Taxes on Bitcoin Profits, IRS Says (cointelegraph.com)
65 points by wslh 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments



I bet the IRS data is wrong.

After all, it's not as if Schedule D [0] or Form 8949 [1] has a standardized way to report it.

There's no official ticker symbol, so you just write in a description.

I paid capital gains taxes on trading in 2015, and I wrote in something like "gain on sale of digital currency".

I can't believe I'm one of just 802 people to have paid taxes on these transactions.

[0] https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sd.pdf (pdf)

[1] https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8949.pdf (pdf)


I paid capital gains on my sale of 325 BTC and used the profits to buy a Butterfly Labs Monarch mining machine.

I was unlucky ... BFL never got their engineering straight and the machine never appeared.

I was lucky ... I demanded a refund early and got back a full cash refund.

I was unlucky ... 325 BTC today would be worth US$1.35 million had I just held on instead of buying a BFL machine.

I was lucky ... my 325 BTC was held at Mt Gox and we know those BTC all vanished.

So ... I'm glad I made some decent gains back in the day, but I sure wish I still had the 325 BTC in a legitimate and safe form.


Thanks for sharing (it's genuinely interesting) but seems unrelated to GP's post.


So, did you pay taxes on the BTC sale? I appreciate your story, but it's not really relevant. Did you comment on the wrong post?


> I paid capital gains on my sale of 325 BTC and used the profits to buy a Butterfly Labs Monarch mining machine.

Did I miss something?


Absolutely this. I made some money in the first bitcoin bubble and paid taxes on it, but there certainly wasn't a "Bitcoin trading" option. I think my accountant set it up more or less as a misc capital gain.


Yeah, my taxes always just summarize capital gains as "various" on Sched. D.


Hm I definitely reported and I wonder if that is counted, I just checked my tax filings, I have 2014 and 2015 available

with Find "8949", as I was unsure of what document that was, I see that I reported a sell of BTC in 2014. I wonder if that was counted.

In 2015 I see a sell reported of Ether, because of the crowdsale selling. (Yes, and this is why I'm not rich). I wonder if that was counted

> Here is a paragraph from Utzke's affidavit that states only 802 individuals filed a bitcoin-related Form 8949 in 2015

Oops they only looked for bitcoin.


I'm trying to do this legit, and I have some gains this year, but the attorney I consulted assured me that a) I wouldn't have to pay early estimated taxes, and b) I should likewise make the 8949 inconvenient to use (in my case, by mailing them a printout).


But but that doesn't fit the narrative the IRS is peddling.


How it could have played out:

IRS: Exchanges need to generate 1099s.

Coinbase: We're sending out those 1099s now.

What happened instead:

IRS: Everybody calculate your own Bitcoin capital gains on the honor system; we trust you.

Coinbase: Yeah suckers, calculate that stuff yourself.

IRS: Hey wait, nobody is reporting Bitcoin gains. Let's sue Coinbase to hoover up every scrap of data they have and spend a lot of money on social media/blockchain analysis.

Coinbase: We're fighting this overbroad lawsuit to the death!

It sure seems like there's an obvious solution to this issue and both sides know what it is, but they're choosing lawsuits instead.


I get what you're saying, but Coinbase can't possibly generate 1099 as you could buy Ethereum, send it to another exchange, do a variety of transactions, etc. They could only speak to coin you buy, don't transfer out, and then sell all on their exchange.


No financial institution can report what you do outside of transactions with their firm either... this is no different.


They can compute a cost basis for the Eth you bought.


Isn't BTC appreciation considered as income rather than capital gains? I always thought appreciation on currency was income.


The IRS classifies them as commodities, since 2013 or 2014.


Lucky! Currency would have a lot worse tax implications.


So you don't like privacy?


I love privacy. I love a well funded government even more.

Please pay your taxes. Thanks.


I do pay my taxes. But I can't help but think there's a less intrusive way to fund the government.


Such as? I can't think of a more realistic way. Not everyone is honest.


Property tax, its the only thing you can't hide and its not a friction on the economy.


And carbon tax. Just count tons of coal at the mine and charge a fee per ton. Same at oil and gas wells. There aren't that many major sources, it'd be easy.


We already tax that and not everyone owns property. There are also a lot of poor people who still manage to hold property.


Everyone lives on property. A tax on landlords is a tax on renters.


> Property tax, its the only thing you can't hide and its not a friction on the economy.

How is property tax not a friction? Total I pay about $5,500+ annually, and it increases every year. That's money I could have spent or invested elsewhere, is it not?


It's a disincentive to own property instead of a disincentive to work/produce/spend like our other taxes.


How about an automatic cut of every transaction that goes straight to the government? Fully automated - no reporting, no beauracracy. Like paying fees to miners.


No way to do that without eliminating privacy and banning decentralized cryptocurrencies that don't have this reporting function. People would be left with somethig like eCoin.


Exactly. For bitcoin taxes we basically rely on people honestly self-reporting, which (a) isn't very effective and (b) means they have to do lots of tedious record keeping and FIFO calculations. Maybe that's not a very good tax.

I'm not saying we shouldn't tax crypto at all, but some countries don't and they seem to do all right. Maybe there's a middle ground.


Pollution taxes and land tax (following the Georgist model).


If you like privacy, don't use regulated exchanges like Coinbase. Their job is to first follow the law and secondly serve their customers.


I'm curious, in what way do you feel that paying tax is an invasion of privacy?


You only have to pay capital gains tax when you sell, so if everyone else is “hodling”... (unlikely).


You also owe taxes if you exchange one digital currency for another, e.g. BTC for ETH, equivalent to if you had sold the BTC for USD.


not necessarily, the IRS declared cryptoassets to be "property", which is inadvertently subject to like-kind tax treatment unless a specific exception is made, which has not been made.

"cryptographic hash inputs" which are colloquially called cryptocurrencies are functionally similar, and are subject to like-kind until a specific exception is made.

the IRS inadvertantly made altcoins the biggest potential tax shelter in history.


How does that make sense? If I have $1000 of BTC and exchange it for $1000 of ETH, why would I ever need to pay taxes on that?


You typically aren't allowed to tax-free swap one asset for a different asset, even if the assets are of the same type. You can't tax-free swap Facebook stock for Amazon stock, for example, or a gold coin for silver coins of equivalent market value. There are a very few exceptions, such as in real estate where you can do what's called a "like kind" 1031 exchange, or with corporate mergers and acquisitions where you can do a tax-free re-organization, but all of these exceptions require specific contemporaneous paperwork to be filed.

This isn't much of a problem because BTC and ETH are close to all-time highs, but in theory you can see how somebody could exchange BTC for ETH, ETH plummets, and they end up owing more in taxes than they are worth. A similar scenario occurred after the dot-com crash in 2001.


It's not that clear-cut.

The IRS does specifically state that 1031 exchanges don't apply to stocks or "securities of indebtedness" (bonds), or to personal property.

1031s are for property held for use in a business or for investment.

It's not just real estate. People use 1031 exchanges to defer taxes on artwork, collectibles, boats and commodities.

BTC and ETH aren't stocks and they're not "securities of indebtedness". The matter isn't settled.

Here's the IRS's statement on what's excluded: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/like-kind-exchanges-under-irc-c...


There's also in-kind redemptions for exchange traded funds.


> You can't tax-free swap Facebook stock for Amazon stock,

You must convert to USD first to swap stocks. With crypto you don't have to.

> they end up owing more in taxes than they are worth

That's bizarre and punitive, and does not seem to be consistent with a fair system.


Of course that's not true. All you must do is find a counterparty willing to take Facebook stock as payment for Amazon stock. (I am not aware of any exchange listing such a contract, but it's certainly possible over the counter.) And if you do, you will have to pay taxes on the gain and will have a new cost basis in your Amazon stock.

With a few exceptions (like-kind exchanges come to mind), you owe the capital gains tax when you dispose of the property. That you continue to take on market risk afterwards does not enter into it.


This could be a 1031 like-kind exchange [0] and non-taxable if you weren't in "constructive receipt" of USD (sold BTC for USD, then later bought ETH with the USD).

IANATL, YMMV, consult a professional, etc.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Like-kind_exchange


I believe for this to be a 1031 you would need a qualified intermediary to handle the USD portion. Once you touch the funds, you've broken the exchange.


if you had purchased the BTC at $20, you now owe taxes on $980 of realized gain. Once you've paid that, your new (tax) basis in ETH is $1000, so you can do whatever you want with it (including exchange it to USD) if the value doesn't change.


If I buy BTC with USD, then later convert those BTC to ETH, how do I calculate my profit? Is it based on the difference between my initial purchase of USD and the USD-equivalent value of those ETH? That doesn’t seem to make sense.


Yes, that is exactly how it works.

When I buy GOOGL for $400/share, then trade it for APPL at a 1:5 ratio, if APPL on the day of the trade goes for $100/share, then my cost basis for GOOGL is $500/share.

Otherwise, there would be an obvious tax loophole where instead of paying taxes on my gains in GOOGL, I'd trade it for another stock, then instantly sell the new stock (Which made no gains between me acquiring it, and selling it.)

Just because I'm investing into magic internet money doesn't mean I shouldn't pay taxes on gains.


Can you trade GOOG -> AAPL without first converting to USD (i.e. selling the GOOG stock and then buying AAPL stock)?


that doesn't make sense. so basically if you trade BTC for ETH for BTC for USD you have to pay taxes 3 times on the same money?


> so basically if you trade BTC for ETH for BTC for USD you have to pay taxes 3 times on the same money?

No, on the BTC -> ETH transaction, your capital gain is the difference between the dollar-equivalent cost of the ETH at the time of the trade and the dollar-equivalent cost of the BTC at purchase.

On the ETH to BTC transaction, it's the same thing, with “ETH” and “BTC” reversed (for the “new” BTC).

On the BTC to USD transaction, it's the actual quantity of dollars minus the dollar-equivalent cost of the BTC at the previous transaction.

In each transaction, you pay taxes on the net gain from the prior transaction. You don't pay taxes on the same income more than once.


what if you dont sell, what if you move it to one of your own accounts or pay some else in "coin". This is a bit complicated than "capital gains".


Title should say that the information was for 2015 (and was already covered in Fortune).


That's probably more than paid use taxes on out-of-state purchases.


I am one of the 893 who reported a transaction in 2014. I mined ~6MM dogecoins and sold them when they were near their peak. I wonder if reporting the transaction makes it more or less likely for my records to be audited...


Than if you just reported ordinary income from a job? I don't see how that could be anything but "more".


how much did you make?


~13K USD


Shouldn't exchanges have to send out 1099's just like online brokerages do? That seems absurd.

People (this applies to US citizens only) will not report gains, and I hope they get audited. Pay your fair share silicon valley.


I'm another of the 802, I suppose. 802 Seems fishy.


Why?




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