Menu
US will tax Bitcoin as property, like stocks, rather than as currency

US will tax Bitcoin as property, like stocks, rather than as currency

Investors welcomed the news but it could mean additional record-keeping for people who spend bitcoins like cash

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has said it will treat Bitcoin as a form of property for tax purposes, rather than as currency, making it subject to similar rules as stocks and barter transactions.

The new rules announced Tuesday appear to be good news for investors, because any gains they make from buying bitcoins will be treated as capital gains, which can mean lower tax rates. But they could also mean that people who spend bitcoins to buy goods and services will have to keep detailed records of those transactions.

That's because they'll have to figure out any gains they make. For example, as Bloomberg noted, if a person buys a US$2 cup of coffee with bitcoins they originally bought for only $1, they might have to report the $1 they made as a capital gain.

The IRS issued the guidance for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies in a 6-page document on its website Tuesday. It arrives shortly before the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns in the U.S.

"For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency," the IRS said.

People who receive bitcoins as payment for goods or services will have to calculate, as part of their gross income, the value of those bitcoins in U.S. dollars as the time they were received, the IRS said.

The same applies to those who "mine" new bitcoins using computers. They'll have to include in their taxable gross income the value of the bitcoins at the time they mine them.

And employers who pay people in bitcoins will have to declare them on a W-2 form for the purpose of federal income tax, insurance contributions and federal unemployment tax. As with regular wages, that requirement generally kicks in when the amount reaches $600 or more.

The rules provide clarity for those investing in Bitcoin and were welcomed by attendees at a conference on virtual currencies in San Francisco.

"It's a good thing," said Micky Malka, founder of Ribbit Capital, which invested in several Bitcoin companies. The new rules will help to promote innovation and the industry around virtual currencies, he said.

Plus, he said, "any framework is better than no framework."

(Zach Miners in San Francisco contributed to this report.)

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internete-commerce

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments