July 17, 2015
Michael D'Addio, Tax & Business Services Principal, Featured in Metropolitan Corporate Counsel Roundtable Discussion, "On Bitcoin: Voices From the Cutting Edge."
The Internal Revenue Service clarified a number of issues concerning the taxation of bitcoin and other "cryptocurrency" last year in Notice 2014-21. However, the guidance also created a number of complexities while imposing significant additional accounting responsibilities.
The IRS has taken the position that bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency are not currency (like dollars or euros) and therefore should be treated as personal property. This conclusion produces both positive and negative tax consequences. On the positive side, income earned by investors when they dispose of the virtual currency can produce capital gains treatment depending on how long the investor held the currency. When the coins are held for less than 12 months, regular tax rates will apply to any gain on disposition. However, when the coins are held for more than 12 months, they qualify as capital assets. As capital assets, any gain earned upon a disposition is subject to the preferred (lower) long-term capital gains rates (0 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent) instead of the higher ordinary income rates.