So Congress has asked the IRS for additional cryptocurrency guidance, yet what was issued was FAQs. In my view, there is really no change from Notice 2014-21.
Combined with Revenue Rule 2019-24, it is still the same. What's going on here is cryptocurrency is treated like property simply because the US Government doesn’t want to legitimize crypto as an actual form of currency.
So what do we have? Think of crypto as a commodity. You exchange one coin or token for another and there is a US dollar amount tied to it. You have a gain or loss and you either pay tax or you don’t.
My theory on why crypto is treated as property is, as I mentioned, the IRS and US government simply don't want to legitimize crypto as a currency.
Here is what it boils down to: You sell crypto, you pay tax. You convert it to US dollars you pay tax. Period. In the end, I don't see any new guidance from the government. Crypto is a commodity, plain and simple. Tokens, however are different.
You buy a token from an initial coin offering (ICO), which gives you the right to purchase the underlying cryptocurrency tied to the token. For example, let’s say you buy one token of XYZ, you have the right to receive the coin tied to it. It’s really not confusing when you think about it.
In the end, what does this new guidance give us? Nothing actually. Nothing has changed.
Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as...