Crypto Tax Forms in the US: A Comprehensive Guide

2 Jan, 2024 · 26 min read

Cryptocurrency has made a significant impact in the financial world, offering a new method of transacting and investing. But with this new financial frontier comes the need to understand the tax implications. The IRS has clear guidelines on how to manage and report cryptocurrency on your tax returns. This article offers an overview of the essential tax forms and valuable tips for accurate and efficient reporting.

Key Takeaways
  • Form 1040 is the primary form to report your total capital gains and losses.

  • Reporting your crypto activity may require using Schedule D and Form 8949.

  • You may also need other tax forms like Form 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC if you earned ordinary income related to cryptocurrency activities.

  • The tax implications for cryptocurrency depend on the specific activities you participate in with your crypto assets.

Understanding Crypto Taxation Basics for the US

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies cryptocurrency as property for tax purposes, which means individuals may be subject to either Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. The specific tax applicable depends on the type of activities you engage in with your crypto. Any capital gain resulting from the disposal of cryptocurrency is subject to Capital Gains Tax.

Capital gains tax applies to the difference between the sale price and the purchase price (also known as the cost basis). If the cryptocurrency appreciated in value, the sale will result in a capital gain, which is taxable. Conversely, if the cryptocurrency depreciated in value, the sale will result in a capital loss, which can offset other capital gains and reduce your taxable income.

Short-term capital gains tax applies to assets held for one year or less and are taxed as ordinary income. On the other hand, long-term capital gains tax applies to assets held for more than one year and are taxed at a lower rate, depending on your income. The IRS recognizes this distinction in tax rates for cryptocurrencies as well.

A great aspect of cryptocurrency taxes is the possibility of tax-loss harvesting. This strategy involves selling a cryptocurrency that has experienced a loss to offset the capital gains tax liability. By realizing, or “harvesting” a loss, investors are able to offset taxes on both gains and income. The sold cryptocurrency is then replaced by a similar one, maintaining the optimal asset allocation and expected returns.

It’s important to note that tax laws are complex and can change. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional or a certified public accountant who is knowledgeable about cryptocurrency tax laws to ensure all information is accurate and up-to-date.

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Overview of taxable events

In the subsequent section, we delve into the most prevalent taxable occurrences when utilizing cryptocurrencies. Since specific tax regulations are contingent upon your individual activities, it’s always advisable to consult with a tax professional to ensure adherence to the current tax laws and regulations.

Trading

Trading cryptocurrency, whether it’s selling, spending or exchanging one cryptocurrency for another, is considered a taxable event and subject to capital gains tax. All such transactions must be reported on Form 8949 and Schedule D. It’s crucial to keep detailed records of every trade, including the date, amount, and value in USD at the time of the transaction, to ensure accurate tax reporting.

Mining

Earnings from cryptocurrency mining are treated as income, determined by the fair market value of your cryptocurrency when it was received. When you sell or utilize your mining rewards, you will be subject to capital gains tax, which is determined by how the value of your cryptocurrency has changed since you initially acquired it. If your cryptocurrency mining is pursued as a hobby, the value of the earned coins should be reported on Form 1040 Schedule 1.

Staking

Staking rewards are acknowledged as income, calculated according to the fair market value of your cryptocurrency at the moment of receipt. If you later sell or dispose of these staking rewards, any resulting profits will be subject to capital gains tax. Individuals are required to report their staking rewards on Form 1040 Schedule 1.

Airdrops

If you receive cryptocurrency through an airdrop, it’s considered income, and you must report it on Form 1040 Schedule 1. The amount to be reported is the fair market value of the cryptocurrency at the time of receipt. Upon disposing of airdrop rewards, you will experience either a capital gain or loss, depending on how the value of your cryptocurrency has altered since its initial reception.

Lending

The IRS has not yet provided precise directives regarding interest payments in cryptocurrency lending. But you are obligated to pay taxes on any income derived from your lending endeavors. The gains arising from this practice are likely to be subject to taxation as either capital gains or ordinary income, contingent on the specific characteristics of your transactions.

Liquidity Mining

Liquidity mining, also known as yield farming, involves providing liquidity to decentralized exchanges and earning rewards in return. These rewards are considered taxable income. Just like with mining and staking, any rewards received should be reported on Form 1040 Schedule 1.

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How to report your crypto tax in the US

Reporting your cryptocurrency taxes requires careful record keeping. It is crucial to track the purchase dates, costs, sale dates, and amounts for each transaction. This information enables the accurate calculation of capital gains or losses. Managing multiple transactions can be complex, but maintaining thorough records simplifies the process. Depending on your investment strategy several forms are relevant when it comes to reporting your crypto taxes.

Key Crypto Tax Forms and Their Significance

  • Form 1040: The primary document utilized for filing your total income taxes.
  • Schedule D: Summary your overall capital gains and losses.
  • Form 8949: Detailed reporting from crypto transactions.
  • Form 1099-K: Discrepancies between exchange reports and tax obligations.
  • Form 1099-B: Understanding broker transactions and their impact on tax reporting.

Form 1040

This is where you report your total capital gains or losses. Form 1040 is the primary form utilized for filing income taxes with the IRS. It encompasses sections for reporting income, deductions, and credits, acting as a hub for information gathered from various other forms and schedules in your tax return.

Schedule D

Used in conjunction with Form 1040 to detail your overall capital gains and losses. Schedule D is commonly used to report capital gains and losses from the sale or trade of various properties, including cryptocurrencies. Gains are treated as ordinary income or capital gains based on the holding period, while losses can offset other gains or up to $3,000 of taxable income. Excess losses can be carried forward to future years.

Form 8949

If necessary, you use this form to reconcile your capital gains and losses. Form 8949 is used alongside Schedule D to report detailed information about the sale or exchange of capital assets, including cryptocurrencies. It allows for reporting adjustments, expenses, and corrections for transactions and is also used to report sales that were not reported or need correction from the information provided on Form 1099-B by your crypto platform or brokerage company. Once all transactions are listed on Form 8949, their total value is entered on Schedule D.

Schedule C and Sch SE

These are used in conjunction with Form 1040 if you’ve earned income from crypto-related activities and are considered self-employed. If you earned income from non-employee work, including cryptocurrency, Schedule C (Profit and Loss From Business) is used to report income, expenses, and calculate the net profit or loss. If the net profit exceeds $400, Schedule SE (Self-Employment Tax) is necessary to determine Social Security and Medicare taxes owed for your crypto-related work.

Forms 1099

Each of these forms is used to report different types of income and transactions, and they may apply to different people depending on their specific circumstances. You would receive these forms from the entity that paid you, and you would then use these forms to complete your income tax return.

Form 1099-MISC

Form 1099-MISC is utilized to report miscellaneous income received from businesses that are not classified as nonemployee compensation. It is common to receive one or more 1099-MISC forms documenting payments made to you throughout the year.

In the context of cryptocurrency, it may be used to report income earned from activities such as staking, earning rewards, or promotional incentives offered by brokers or crypto exchanges.

Form 1099-NEC

This is typically used for independent contractors, freelancers, or self-employed individuals who have been paid $600 or more for services rendered. If you engage in mining with $600 or more in cryptocurrency or other currency payments from a business as a non-employee, you can anticipate receiving Form 1099-NEC to report this income.

Form 1099-B

This form is used by brokers to report the sale of securities, futures contracts, commodities, or foreign currency contracts. This includes the sale of cryptocurrency and will show the purchase and sale price of the transactions, allowing the taxpayer to calculate their capital gain or loss.

In general, regardless of receiving a Form 1099-B or not, you are typically required to report information from the sale or exchange of all assets on Schedule D. If you need to provide additional details or make adjustments to transactions reported or missing on your 1099-B forms, you can utilize Form 8949.

Form 1099-K

This form is used by payment settlement entities (PSE) to report payments made in settlement of reportable payment transactions for the year. This includes payments made through a third-party network, such as a cryptocurrency exchange, if they exceed $20,000 and 200 transactions in a year. Certain cryptocurrency exchanges may provide users with Form 1099-K if they surpass specific thresholds for transaction volume and gross receipts.

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How to get crypto tax forms?

Depending on where you hold or transact your cryptocurrency, the process to obtain these forms can vary. Here’s a guide on how to get your crypto tax forms based on the platform.

Exchange

Most established exchanges have procedures in place to assist users with tax reporting:

  1. Navigate to the ‘Tax’ or ‘Reports’ Section: Most exchanges have a dedicated section where users can access and download tax-related documents.
  2. Download Forms 1099-K or 1099-B: If the exchange provides these forms, they will be available for download in this section. Remember, not all exchanges issue these forms, and the criteria for issuing them can vary.
  3. Contact Customer Support: If you’re having trouble finding the necessary forms or reports, reach out to the exchange’s customer support for assistance.

Wallet (DeFi)

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) wallets are non-custodial wallets that allow users to interact directly with decentralized applications and protocols. Obtaining tax forms from a DeFi wallet involves a different approach:

  1. Access Your Wallet: Connect to your DeFi wallet using your private key or seed phrase.
  2. Use a Crypto Tax Software: Since DeFi wallets don’t typically provide tax forms, you’ll need to use third-party crypto tax software such as CoinTracking. These platforms can integrate with your wallet, extract transaction data, and generate tax reports.
  3. Import Transaction History: Some crypto tax software allows users to import transaction history using a CSV file. If your wallet supports transaction exports, this can be a useful feature.
  4. Review and Generate Reports: Once your transactions are imported, review them for accuracy. The software will then calculate your gains, losses, and other tax-related metrics, generating a report suitable for tax filing.

Another approach would be to extract your transaction data directly from Blockchain Explorers such as Etherscan (for Ethereum) or BscScan (for Binance Smart Chain). Blockchain explorers provide a transparent and immutable record of all transactions on the network. Tax software like CoinTracking can also synchronize with various blockchains and extract your transaction data.

Transaction History

While not an official tax form, most crypto platforms allow users to export their transaction history in a CSV format. This export can be invaluable when calculating gains and losses, especially if you’ve conducted a large number of transactions.

Tax forms to report your crypto transactions

For transactions involving the disposal of crypto through trading, exchanging, or spending, Form 1040, Schedule D should be used to report these activities. Additionally, Form 8949 may be required to reconcile information from Forms 1099-B with the amounts reported on Schedule D.

If you earned income from freelance work or other crypto-related activities, you may receive Forms 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC. However, even if you do not receive these forms from crypto exchanges, brokers, or other companies that paid you for crypto activities, it is still necessary to report this income on your tax return.

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Tips for preparing your tax forms

When it comes to preparing your tax forms for cryptocurrency transactions, it’s crucial to stay organized and be aware of the latest tax laws and regulations. Here are some tips that could help you in this process:

  • Use a Crypto Tax Calculator: A crypto tax calculator can be a valuable tool to keep track of your gains, losses, and tax liability. It can handle multiple currencies, different types of transactions, and even account for the changing values of cryptocurrencies.
  • Consider a Certified Public Accountant (CPA): If your tax situation is complex due to substantial crypto trading activity or involvement in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), staking, mining, or earning crypto as income, it might be beneficial to hire a CPA. A CPA who is familiar with cryptocurrencies can provide advice tailored to your situation and ensure you’re complying with all IRS regulations.
  • Leverage Crypto Tax Software: Crypto tax software can automatically import your transactions from various exchanges, calculate your gains and losses, and fill out the necessary tax forms. Software such as CoinTracking can save you a lot of time and effort.
  • Keep Detailed Records: It’s essential to maintain detailed records of all your crypto transactions. This includes dates of transactions, the value of the cryptocurrency at the time of the transaction, and the amount of gain or loss. Good record-keeping can make tax preparation much easier and help you in case of an IRS audit.
  • Stay Updated on Tax Laws: Tax laws related to cryptocurrencies can change quickly, and it’s crucial to stay updated to avoid any potential penalties. Regularly check the IRS website or consult with a tax professional to ensure you’re aware of any changes that could affect your tax situation.
  • Consider Tax-Loss Harvesting: If you’ve experienced losses on your crypto investments, you might be able to use those losses to offset your capital gains and reduce your tax liability. This strategy, known as tax-loss harvesting, involves selling off an investment that has lost value to realize a loss, which can then be used to offset gains from other investments.
  • Understand Short-Term vs. Long-Term Capital Gains: Cryptocurrency profits are taxed differently based on the duration of ownership. Selling within one year leads to a short-term capital gain with higher tax rates, while selling after one year results in a long-term capital gain with lower tax rates. Awareness of this difference enables strategic trading and potential tax reduction.

Remember, when it comes to taxes, everyone’s situation is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to seek personalized advice from a tax professional.

Crypto Tax Forms in other countries

Please note that this information is a general guideline and may not cover every tax situation. Tax laws are complex and change frequently, so you should consult with a qualified tax professional or tax authority in your country to understand your specific situation and obligations.

Canada

Canadian taxpayers report capital gains from crypto using Schedule 3 – Capital Gains. Business crypto transactions are subject to income tax and require Form T2125. Holding crypto outside Canada qualifies as “specified foreign property,” necessitating filing Form T1135 if the total cost exceeds $100,000.

Australia

A convenient option for filing your tax return is through MyTax, accessible via your MyGov account. By selecting the ‘Capital gains tax (CGT) related items’ option, you can personalize your tax return and declare capital gains or losses.

UK

To report crypto capital gains and losses, use SA100 and Capital Gains Summary SA108 forms. Crypto income should be reported on Box 17 of your Self Assessment Tax Return (SA100). Filing online through the Government Gateway service is recommended as the most efficient method.

Frequently Asked Questions
about US tax forms

What tax forms do I need for crypto?2023-09-07T18:24:26+01:00

In the United States, the key tax forms for reporting crypto transactions are Form 1040, Schedule D, and Form 8949. If you’ve earned ordinary income from crypto activities, you may also need Form 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC.

Do crypto wallets have tax forms?2023-09-07T18:23:19+01:00

Crypto wallets themselves do not provide tax forms. However, most trading platforms or exchanges will provide tax documents such as Form 1099-B, which records your transactions for tax purposes. If not, they should still be able to provide the necessary transaction information​.

How do I get crypto tax forms?2023-09-07T18:22:22+01:00

If you trade on a platform or exchange, they should provide you with the necessary tax forms or at least transaction records. This may be in the form of a Form 1099-B or equivalent. If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact your platform or a tax professional for guidance​.

What forms should I receive from my crypto platform?2023-09-07T18:21:39+01:00

Based on your individual activities, crypto platforms might provide some forms to assist with tax reporting such as Form 1099-K, Form 1099-B or Form 1099-INT.

Conclusion

Tax obligations related to cryptocurrency transactions largely depend on the nature of the individual’s trading activities, as different tax forms may be required based on specific circumstances. CoinTracking is a useful software tool that helps simplify the tracking and reporting of these transactions, making it easier to comply with tax obligations.

Disclaimer: All the information provided above is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional investment, legal, or tax advice. You should conduct your own research or consult with a professional financial advisor when investing.

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Patrick Henry: Crypto Tax Manager
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Patrick
Crypto Tax Manager
Tax Expert, Webinar-Host, Content Creator, Crypto Enthusiast and Investor. Interested in everything regarding the crypto space.
Tax Expert, Webinar-Host, Content Creator, Crypto Enthusiast and Investor. Interested in everything regarding the crypto space.

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