Please note, the IRS released an early draft Form 1040 for the 2019 tax year which contains a new item – 2019 Form 1040, Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments to Income. The checkbox at the top of Schedule 1 asks taxpayers about their interests in virtual currency. Specifically, it states, “At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”
The virtual currency issue is a pet project of the IRS, and they are taking steps to identify those with such accounts. If you have virtual currency, make sure to read the instructions and correctly complete this checkbox. If you had any virtual currency transactions, you need to file Schedule 1 and check the ‘Yes’ box even if you have no other reason to file Schedule 1.
Over the last several years, virtual currency has become increasingly popular. Bitcoin is the most widely recognized form of virtual currency, also commonly referred to as digital, electronic or crypto currency.
While most smaller businesses aren’t yet accepting bitcoin or other virtual currency payments from their customers, more and more larger businesses are. And the trend may trickle down to smaller businesses. Businesses also can pay employees or independent contractors with virtual currency. But what are the tax consequences of these transactions?
Bitcoin has an equivalent value in real currency and can be digitally traded between users. It also can be purchased with real currencies or exchanged for real currencies. Bitcoin is most commonly obtained through virtual currency ATMs or online exchanges.
Goods or services can be paid for using “bitcoin wallet” software. When a purchase is made, the software digitally posts the transaction to a global public ledger. This prevents the same unit of virtual currency from being used multiple times.
Internal Revenue Service Notice 2014-21
Section 1. Purpose
This notice describes how existing general tax principles apply to transactions using virtual currency. The notice provides this guidance in the form of answers to frequently asked questions.
Section 2. Background
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is aware that “virtual currency” may be used to pay for goods or services, or held for investment. Virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value. In some environments, it operates like “real” currency — i.e., the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that is designated as legal tender, circulates, and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance — but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. Read More
Thinking about writing about Bitcoin, I remembered my maverick of an Economics teacher back in high school in Mumbai, India whose very thick south Indian accent meant we did not know what he was saying more than half the time. He started off the chapter on currency by having everyone in class remain standing till we came up with a definition for “Money”. Thankfully someone said “medium of exchange” real quick!
Although the underlying meaning of currency remains the same, the simple concept of a medium of exchange has undergone several upgrades particularly so with the cryptocurrency or digital payment systems known more commonly as Bitcoin.