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Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin or other "cryptocurrencies" are taxed differently from cash or coin currency.

The IRS generally recognizes virtual currency as property, not legal tender. As such, virtual currency received as payment by an individual or business must be included as miscellaneous income as an exchange of property or service. The value of the payment is determined by the Fair Market Value (FMV) on the date of receipt. The virtual currency must be translated to the legal tender equivalent and then included in income.


Per IRS Instructions for Form 1040 and 1040-SR, page 17:

Virtual Currency

Virtual currency is a digital representation of value, other than a representation of the U.S. dollar or a foreign currency (“real currency”), that functions as a unit of account, a store of value, or a medium of exchange. Some virtual currencies are convertible, which means that they have an equivalent value in real currency or act as a substitute for real currency. The IRS uses the term “virtual currency” to describe the various types of convertible virtual currency that are used as a medium of exchange, such as digital currency and cryptocurrency. Regardless of the label applied, if a particular asset has the characteristics of virtual currency, it will be treated as virtual currency for Federal income tax purposes.

If, in 2021, you engaged in any transaction involving virtual currency, check the “Yes” box next to the question on virtual currency on page 1 of Form 1040 or 1040-SR. A transaction involving virtual currency includes, but is not limited to:

  • The receipt of virtual currency as payment for goods or services provided;
  • The receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free (without providing any consideration) that does not qualify as a bona fide gift;
  • The receipt of new virtual currency as a result of mining and staking activities;
  • The receipt of virtual currency as a result of a hard fork;
  • An exchange of virtual currency for property, goods, or services;
  • An exchange/trade of virtual currency for another virtual currency;
  • A sale of virtual currency; and
  • Any other disposition of a financial interest in virtual currency

A transaction involving virtual currency does not include the holding of virtual currency in a wallet or account, or the transfer of virtual currency from one wallet or account you own or control to another that you own or control. If your only transactions involving virtual currency during 2021 were purchases of virtual currency for real currency, including the use of real currency electronic platforms such as PayPal and Venmo, you are not required to check the “Yes” box next to the virtual currency question. You must not leave the field blank even if you are not required to answer “Yes”. If you disposed of any virtual currency that was held as a capital asset through a sale, exchange, or transfer, check “Yes” and use Form 8949 to figure your capital gain or loss and report it on Schedule D (Form 1040).

If you received any virtual currency as compensation for services or disposed of any virtual currency that you held for sale to customers in a trade or business, you must report the income as you would report other income of the same type (for example, W-2 wages on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, line 1, or inventory or services from Schedule C on Schedule 1).


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