After a year-long fight with the IRS on turning over customer data, Coinbase both won and lost.  It won in that the court significantly narrowed the type of information that it was ordered to turn over to the IRS.  It lost in that it was still required to turn over data on approximately 13,000 customers.  For the 13,000 customers this means that the IRS may now be contacting you to let you know that you may owe additional tax.
Continue Reading Information on 13,000 Coinbase Customers Turned Over to IRS – Was Your Information Among Them?

On March 1, Steptoe is hosting a workshop in New York on the tax consequences of investing in cryptocurrency, as well as common methods of tax structuring for individuals and entities using, trading, and investing in cryptocurrency and tokens. The workshop will feature discussions on a range of topics from determining basis, income, and capital

Background

Before 2014, the treatment of virtual currency for tax purposes was somewhat of an open question.  That is, would it be treated like a currency?  Maybe a foreign currency?  Or would it be treated like property?  Or maybe a commodity or a derivative?  The IRS took initial steps to answering that question in Notice 2014-21, where the IRS asserted that virtual currency would be treated like property.

A lot of practitioners thought that this was probably the right answer, as did many significant investors, but for ordinary folks who have been using bitcoin or other virtual currency to buy goods and services, it may have been a bit surprising.  Essentially, the IRS characterization means that if you go to Starbucks and use bitcoin to buy your coffee, while it may seem to you the same as using dollars, for tax purposes, it’s more like using gold.  And if your gold has appreciated in value since you acquired it, you may owe tax on the gain.  Same thing with virtual currency.  The problem arises because using virtual currencies to buy things seems much more like using cash than like using gold, so many virtual currency users may not have even considered that there could be potential tax consequences.  
Continue Reading Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple, Oh My! How the IRS Taxes Digital Currency

The Chamber of Digital Commerce and Steptoe & Johnson LLP today announce the formation of the Digital Assets Tax Policy Coalition, a Washington, DC-based coalition created to help develop effective and efficient tax policies for the growing virtual currency markets.  The move comes in response to a lack of recent guidance from the Internal Revenue Service, which since 2014 has considered digital currencies to be property, not currency, for tax purposes.

The Digital Assets Tax Policy Coalition intends to help develop policies that work for both the industry and government.  Developing these policies will allow the IRS to implement the recent recommendations by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that the IRS develop a strategic plan for its virtual currency program and create third-party tools to allow for greater compliance, while minimizing the need for aggressive and burdensome enforcement actions.

Continue Reading Tax Coalition Forms to Address Digital Asset Uncertainty