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New IRS Guidance on Crypto Tax Reporting: What It Means for Investors

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Benjamin Hughes

July 2, 2024 - 07:15 am

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Introduction to New IRS Crypto Tax Reporting Rules

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and IRS recently unveiled final tax reporting rules for digital asset brokers, and experts emphasize that crypto investors have limited time to prepare. This new regulation introduces mandatory yearly reporting, which will phase in starting in 2026. It is crucial for investors to understand these changes and take necessary steps before 2025, as the new rules will significantly impact their tax reporting processes.

Timeline for Mandatory Reporting

Mandatory yearly reporting for digital currency brokers will begin in 2026, covering gross proceeds from sales in 2025 via Form 1099-DA. By 2027, brokers will also need to include the cost basis, or purchase price, for specific digital asset sales for 2026. These regulations are part of a broader effort to enhance tax compliance among high-income individuals and to ensure digital assets are not used to hide taxable income.

Importance of Cost Basis Reporting

A critical aspect of the new rules is the requirement for investors to assign a cost basis for each digital currency wallet before January 1, 2025. According to an IRS revenue procedure released recently, taxpayers must establish a reasonable allocation of the basis for each digital wallet by the end of 2024. This step is vital because, without proving the basis, the IRS considers it zero, which can result in a significantly higher calculated profit and tax liability.

Challenges with Multiple Wallets

For investors who have bought digital currencies over several years across multiple wallets, this process can be complex. Currently, crypto tax software often uses the best basis from combined accounts to calculate gains. However, under the new rules, each asset's basis must be specific to the wallet. This change necessitates meticulous record-keeping and accurate allocation of the basis for each transaction within individual wallets.

Preparation for Upcoming Tax Seasons

Although the new reporting rules will not apply to the upcoming tax season, experts stress that 2024 is a critical year for crypto investors to ensure accurate reporting. Andrew Gordon, a tax attorney and certified public accountant, highlights the importance of reporting correctly in 2024 to align with the impending regulations. Investors should take proactive measures to organize their transaction records and understand the basis calculation requirements.

IRS Efforts to Enhance Compliance

These new regulations align with the IRS's broader strategy to enhance compliance and enforcement in the digital asset space. The introduction of yearly digital asset reporting was initially estimated to raise nearly $28 billion over a decade, as per the Joint Committee on Taxation. Despite a postponed start date, the new rules are a significant step toward improving detection of noncompliance and ensuring proper tax reporting.

Impact of IRS Hiring Crypto Executives

The new IRS regulations follow the agency's recent hiring of two former crypto executives to enhance digital currency service, reporting, compliance, and enforcement programs. This move underscores the IRS's commitment to addressing the complexities of crypto transactions and ensuring thorough oversight in the high-risk digital asset space. The involvement of experienced professionals is expected to streamline the implementation of the new rules and support investors in adhering to the updated requirements.

Investor Actions and Best Practices

Crypto investors should start by reviewing their transaction histories and ensuring they have detailed records for each purchase and sale. Utilizing reliable crypto tax software can help in accurately tracking transactions and calculating the correct basis for each wallet. Investors should also stay informed about any further updates or clarifications from the IRS regarding the new reporting rules.

Significance of Establishing Basis Before 2025

Establishing a correct basis before 2025 is crucial for minimizing potential tax liabilities. Investors who fail to assign an accurate basis may face higher taxes due to the IRS considering unproven bases as zero. This could lead to larger profits being reported and, consequently, higher tax bills. Proper preparation and timely action can help investors avoid these pitfalls and ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Expert Insights and Recommendations

Experts like James Creech, an attorney and senior manager at Baker Tilly, anticipate increased enforcement activity as the new rules take effect. Investors should heed expert advice and take proactive steps to prepare for the upcoming changes. Consulting with tax professionals who specialize in cryptocurrency can provide valuable insights and assistance in navigating the new regulations.

Long-Term Benefits of Compliance

While the new reporting requirements may seem daunting, they offer long-term benefits by promoting transparency and accuracy in tax reporting. Complying with the new rules can help investors avoid penalties and audits, providing peace of mind and a clearer understanding of their tax obligations. Furthermore, thorough record-keeping and accurate reporting can enhance an investor's credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of tax authorities.

Conclusion

The new IRS guidance on crypto tax reporting marks a significant shift in how digital asset transactions are reported and taxed. With mandatory yearly reporting set to begin in 2026, crypto investors have a limited window to prepare. By understanding the new rules, establishing accurate bases for their digital wallets, and seeking expert advice, investors can ensure compliance and minimize potential tax liabilities. Taking these steps now will help investors navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and safeguard their financial interests in the dynamic world of digital assets.