How to Report Virtual Currency on Your Taxes

How to Report Virtual Currency on Your Taxes and Stay on the IRS’ Good Side

In the summer of 2019, the IRS mailed a series of notification letters to taxpayers who owned virtual currency. These letters informed taxpayers that the IRS was aware of their virtual transactions and expected them to submit amended tax returns if they had not included virtual income and transactions on their 2018 returns.  

Previously, the IRS was unable to track virtual currency transactions, so these letters came as a surprise to many taxpayers. If you received one of these letters or are new to virtual currency, please keep reading to learn how this might affect your taxes. 


Key Takeaways  

  • Virtual currency is digital money connected to a digital recordkeeping ledger (Blockchain) that ensure honest and private transactions. 
  • The IRS has begun tracking virtual currency transactions and income and now requires owners to report it on their taxes. 
  • Owners must convert virtual currency to its fair market value (FMV) at the time of acquisition and report that number to the IRS. 
  • Failure to accurately report virtual currency could result in penalties or criminal prosecution. 

How Does Virtual Currency Work? 

Virtual currency is a type of digital currencyHowever, digital currency can refer to digital banking transactions, whereas virtual currency usually isn’t regulated by a bank or other centralized third-party. Instead, virtual currency is recorded in a digital ledger called a Blockchain, which privately records transactions between parties. 

Many people use virtual currency for peer-to-peer payments and payments for the purchase of goods and services. Virtual currency in a Blockchain ledger can facilitate these private transactions between friends and strangers alike. 

How Does the IRS Regard Virtual Currency? 

According to the IRS, “for federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property.” As such, tax rules that apply to typical property transactions (like selling your car) also apply to virtual currency transactions. 

The IRS considers virtual currency a type of intangible personal property. Other examples include trademarks, stocks, bonds  and anything else that has monetary value but no physical form 

The IRS expects taxpayers to report virtual currency income and applicable transactions on their taxes just like with other types of property. 

RELATEDHow Will My Cryptocurrency Sales Affect My Taxes? 

What Does The Virtual Currency Crackdown Mean for Me? 

If you use virtual currency to collect income and perform transactions, there are several things to keep in mind in order to avoid the IRS recent crackdown on this emerging technology. 

You Need to Record Your Virtual Currency Income Accurately 

Accurately reporting virtual income and transactions isn’t as easy as copying and calculating numbers from your W2. The digital and unregulated nature of virtual currency transactions makes keeping track of your gains and losses somewhat challenging. 

Furthermore, you can’t just write that you made 500 Bitcoins in income on your 1040 next to your total wages, salaries, and tips. You’ll have to convert each virtual currency type you own into its fair market value in dollars. That’s the FMV of the currency at the time you received it  not at the time you report it. In other words, if you have Bitcoin currency, Ethereum, and Litecoin, you’ll have to calculate each currency’s FMV in U.S. dollars. 

Failure to Accurately Record Transactions Can Result in Penalties 

The IRS can track and record certain virtual currency transactions. And while their methods aren’t perfect, they can determine which taxpayers have excluded virtual currency from their filing with some degree of accuracy. 

Like any other type of tax liability, failing to report income from virtual currency transactions accurately can result in additional taxes, penalties, and interest. In extreme cases, taxpayers could even be subject to criminal prosecution. 

If you have unpaid taxes from virtual currency, it’s always best to come forward and voluntarily file an amended return before the IRS begins its own collection efforts. 

You Need to Know Which Virtual Transactions Must Be Reported 

  • Receiving virtual currency as payment for goods or services 
  • Mining virtual currencies 
  • Gifting virtual currency 
  • Trading or exchanging virtual currency 
  • Spending virtual currency 

Contact S.H Block Tax Services With Your Virtual Currency Questions 

Accurately converting your virtual currency to U.S. dollars is a complex process that requires careful recordkeepingAmending a tax return or filing a delinquent tax return because you failed to file your virtual currency income accurately can be time consuming, confusing, and potentially very expensive. 

Tensure compliance and accuracy with your virtual currency when filing your taxes, please contact the skilled and experienced tax professionals at S.H. Block Tax Services. We can help you determine how to file your virtual currency transactions and income. We can also help you amend any previously filed returns. 

Please reach out today by calling (410) 872-8376 or completing this brief online contact form to avoid potential issues with the IRS due to your virtual currency transactions.  



Aqui, K. (2014). Notice 2014-21Internal Revenue Service – Income Tax & Accounting. Retrieved from 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 


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