Complete Guide to Reporting Crypto on Taxes

While there are several reasons why you should report your crypto taxes, compliance is foremost. 

Compliance is extremely important. It helps you stay on the right side of the law, keeps the crypto market stable, and makes sure taxes are fair. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to report crypto on taxes, and understand everything they entail.

Read on!

Importance of Reporting Crypto on Taxes

Failing to report cryptocurrency transactions can result in severe penalties, including fines and possible criminal charges. However, reporting losses can benefit taxpayers by reducing overall tax liability

Reporting cryptocurrency transactions on your taxes is crucial for several reasons, both for individual taxpayers and the broader financial system.

For Tax Integrity

Firstly, compliance with tax laws helps maintain the integrity of the tax system. The IRS has classified cryptocurrency as property for taxation purposes, meaning that profits from cryptocurrency transactions are subject to capital gains taxes. 

When you report these transactions accurately, you ensure that you are paying the correct amount of taxes, which is vital for supporting public services and infrastructure funded through tax revenues.

To Stay On The Right Side of the Law

As the IRS is increasingly focusing on cryptocurrency transactions in its enforcement efforts. When you don’t report your cryptocurrency activities, you risk facing audits, penalties, and fines. These can be financially burdensome and could potentially lead to legal issues, including criminal charges if evasion is deemed intentional.

For Tax Savings

Proper reporting can actually benefit taxpayers. By keeping detailed records of cryptocurrency transactions, you can accurately calculate gains and losses. This allows for better financial planning and potential tax savings. 

For instance, losses on cryptocurrency trades can often be used to offset gains, thereby reducing your overall tax liability.

As such, it’s important to stay informed and compliant. As governments worldwide are working to integrate cryptocurrency into the formal financial system, adherence to existing laws makes the process smoother and minimizes legal risks.

For Ethical and Legal Reasons

Transparent reporting contributes to the legitimacy and acceptance of cryptocurrency as a part of the financial system. It demonstrates to regulators and skeptics that cryptocurrency users are committed to legal and ethical standards, which can encourage broader adoption and integration into global finance.

So, reporting cryptocurrency on taxes is not just a legal requirement but a crucial step toward responsible financial behavior and the maturation of the cryptocurrency market.

For Financial Reasons

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others, has transformed from a digital curiosity into a significant financial asset for many investors. 

As a form of property, cryptocurrency transactions are subject to tax just like transactions involving any other property. This includes trading, selling, or using crypto to purchase goods and services. Each of these actions can trigger a taxable event where the difference between the acquisition cost and the value at the time of the transaction may result in a capital gain or loss. 

Additionally, receiving cryptocurrency as payment for goods or services, or through mining, also constitutes taxable income at its fair market value.

The IRS Stance on Crypto Reporting

The IRS has been clear about its stance on cryptocurrency — it is not currency but property for tax purposes. This classification means that it is subject to capital gains tax and must be reported as such. 

The IRS requires all taxpayers who engage in cryptocurrency transactions to report these on their tax returns. They have also issued guidance and updates to assist taxpayers in understanding their responsibilities. This shows their increasing focus on ensuring compliance in this area.

Preliminary Steps Before Filing

Before you begin filing your tax return, consider the following steps if you’ve engaged in cryptocurrency transactions:

Determine if You Need to Report

If you exchanged crypto for other tokens, cashed out to fiat currency, or used crypto to buy goods or services, these transactions need to be reported.

Also, if you earned crypto through mining, staking, or as payment, it’s considered income and must be reported. Note that receiving or donating cryptocurrency can also have tax implications.

Gather Documentation

The next step is to collect all records related to your cryptocurrency transactions. This includes transaction logs from exchanges, wallet records, and receipts of purchases or transfers.

Calculate Gains and Losses

You’ll need to calculate the fair market value of your crypto in U.S. dollars at the time of each transaction. This will help you determine whether you’ve realized a gain or a loss.

Understand the Forms

Form 8949 is used to report capital gains and losses from all property dispositions, including cryptocurrency. The results are then transferred to Schedule D of your tax return.

Seek Professional Help

Given the complexities involved, consulting with a tax professional who understands cryptocurrency can be very beneficial. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Remember, with the IRS taking an active interest in crypto transactions, it’s more important than ever to stay informed and meticulous in your reporting.

Step-by-Step Guide to Reporting Crypto on Your Tax Return

Here’s how to report your crypto transactions correctly and ordinary income

Step 1: Understanding and Calculating Your Crypto Gains and Losses

Capital gains and losses are the profit or loss you make from selling assets like cryptocurrency. If you sell it for more than you paid, you have a gain. If you sell it for less, you have a loss. 

So, it’s important to track every transaction, noting how much you paid for the crypto and its value when you sold it.

Numerous software tools can help you track your transactions and calculate gains and losses. These tools sync with your crypto wallets and exchanges, automatically pulling in your transaction data and providing detailed reports.

Step 2: Filling Out IRS Form 8949

This form is where you list all your capital gains and losses from all sales, including cryptocurrency. 

You’ll need to include details like the date you acquired the crypto, the date you sold it, how much you paid, and how much you sold it for.

Note that gains from assets held for a year or less are short-term and taxed at higher regular income rates. Assets held longer than a year are taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates.

If you’ve received a Form 1099 from a crypto exchange, it means they’ve reported certain transactions to the IRS. You must report these transactions on your tax return, whether or not you received a form.

Step 3: Summarizing Crypto Transactions on Schedule D

After filling out Form 8949, transfer the totals to Schedule D. This form summarizes your total capital gains and losses. The information from Schedule D will help determine how much tax you owe or the deductions you can claim based on your capital gains and losses.

Step 4: Reporting Crypto Income

It’s crucial to differentiate between crypto received as income (like from mining or as payment for services) and crypto transactions that qualify as capital gains. 

Income must be reported as such and is taxed differently than capital gains.

If you received crypto as income, you might need to fill out additional forms depending on how you received it. For instance, self-employed individuals will report this income on Schedule C.

Step 5: Finalizing Your Tax Return

Your tax return for 2020 and beyond includes a question about cryptocurrency at the top of Form 1040. You must answer this question by checking ‘Yes’ if you’ve engaged in any crypto transactions during the year. 

Failing to answer this question or answering inaccurately can lead to penalties and audits.

Special Considerations for Crypto Taxes

When it comes to crypto taxes, it’s essential to take note of:

Crypto Mining and Its Tax Implications

Mining cryptocurrency is considered a taxable event, as it generates income from the very moment new coins are successfully mined. This income is valued at the market price of the cryptocurrency on the day it was mined. 

For tax purposes, this means that every successful mining operation needs to be recorded as income. Later, when these mined cryptocurrencies are sold, the transaction will also potentially trigger a capital gain or loss, which needs to be reported separately. 

For miners, it’s important to keep detailed records not only of the income received but also of any related expenses, as these can be deductible.

Understanding the Tax Implications of Crypto Scams and Exchange Shutdowns

Dealing with crypto scams or the shutdown of a cryptocurrency exchange can be a challenging situation, especially from a tax perspective. If you fall victim to a scam or an exchange you use shuts down and you lose your cryptocurrency, you may be able to claim a loss. 

However, unlike traditional theft or loss deductions, losses from crypto scams are treated as capital losses, not casual theft losses. This means they can only offset capital gains. If your losses exceed your gains, you can use up to $3,000 of loss to offset other types of income, with any remaining losses carried forward to future years.

Can the IRS Track Your Cryptocurrency?

Yes, the IRS can track cryptocurrency transactions. The IRS has been strengthening its methods to identify and monitor cryptocurrency transactions to ensure tax compliance. 

Through subpoenas, software tools, and cooperation agreements with various crypto exchanges, the IRS collects data on transactions that involve cryptocurrencies. 

Furthermore, U.S. taxpayers are required to report cryptocurrency transactions on their tax returns, and failing to do so can lead to audits and penalties. As the use of cryptocurrency becomes more widespread, the IRS continues to develop strategies to improve compliance, including educating taxpayers about their tax obligations related to cryptocurrency.

These special considerations highlight the importance of maintaining detailed and accurate records of all cryptocurrency transactions and being aware of the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency regulations and its implications on taxes.

Utilizing Cryptocurrency Tax Software

Using cryptocurrency tax software simplifies the complex process of tracking and reporting digital currency transactions for tax purposes. These tools automatically import transaction data from various exchanges and wallets, calculate gains and losses, and prepare necessary tax forms. 

Benefits of Using Crypto Tax Software

Some of the benefits of using crypto tax software include:

  • Accuracy and Efficiency: Crypto tax software automates the process of calculating gains and losses from cryptocurrency transactions, reducing the likelihood of errors. This is particularly useful given the complexity of tracking purchase and sale dates, prices, and the type of transaction across multiple exchanges and wallets.
  • Time-Saving: Manually tracking each transaction can be incredibly time-consuming, especially for frequent traders. Crypto tax software syncs with popular exchanges and wallets to import transactions directly, saving hours of manual entry.
  • Tax Optimization: Many crypto tax software options provide insights on how to optimize your transactions for tax purposes. They can analyze your trading history to suggest which cryptocurrencies to sell and potentially minimize your tax liabilities.
  • Comprehensive Reporting: These programs can generate various comprehensive reports required for tax filing, including IRS Form 8949 and others. These reports are ready to attach to your tax return, simplifying the filing process.
  • Stay Updated with Tax Laws: Crypto tax software is regularly updated to comply with the latest tax regulations and rulings, helping you stay compliant without needing to track legislative changes yourself.

How to Choose the Right Cryptocurrency Tax Software

When dealing with cryptocurrency taxes, you need the right software. Here are some tips to help you choose the correct ones:


The first step is to ensure that the software is compatible with the cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets you use. It should be able to automatically import your transaction logs from these services.

Ease of Use

The interface should be user-friendly, especially if you’re not very tech-savvy. Good software should make it easy to input data, calculate taxes, and generate reports without requiring extensive manual intervention.


Given the sensitive nature of the data involved, choose software that has strong security measures in place. This includes data encryption and secure storage practices to protect your financial information.


It’s also important to evaluate the cost relative to the features provided. Some software might offer a free version with basic features, which might be sufficient for users with relatively simple tax situations. 

More complex situations might necessitate a paid version with additional features like detailed tax planning advice or support for more transactions.

Customer Support and Reviews

Good customer support can be invaluable, especially close to tax filing deadlines. So, look for software with positive reviews, particularly noting customer service responsiveness and the ease of resolving issues.

Updates and Maintenance

The software should be maintained with regular updates that reflect the latest tax laws and regulations related to cryptocurrency. This ensures that the reports generated remain compliant with current IRS guidelines.

Additional Resources and Further Reading

The IRS has progressively provided guidelines and resources to help taxpayers understand and fulfill their obligations concerning cryptocurrency transactions. 

IRS Guidelines on Cryptocurrency

 The IRS treats cryptocurrencies as property for tax purposes, not as currency. This classification means that standard tax principles applicable to property transactions also apply to cryptocurrencies. 

Therefore, the sale, exchange, or use of cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services results in a capital gain or loss, which must be reported on the tax return.

Also, taxpayers are advised to keep detailed records of their cryptocurrency transactions. This includes dates of transactions, the fair market values at the time of the transactions, and any associated gains or losses. Accurate record-keeping facilitates the correct calculation of capital gains and ensures compliance.

IRS Form 8949 is used to report the sale and exchange of capital assets, including cryptocurrencies. The results from Form 8949 are then summarized on Schedule D, which is attached to the individual tax return. For income generated from mining or cryptocurrency received as payment, taxpayers must report this as income on their tax returns, usually on Schedule 1 (Form 1040).

IRS Resources on Crypto Taxes

The IRS Notice 2014-21 is one of the initial guidelines issued by the IRS that explains how existing tax principles apply to transactions using cryptocurrency. It provides answers to frequently asked questions and has served as the foundation for later guidance.

FAQs on Virtual Currency Transactions

The IRS has an updated and comprehensive FAQ section on its website dedicated to virtual currency. This resource addresses a wide range of issues from the basic tax implications of cryptocurrency transactions to the specifics of record-keeping and reporting requirements.

Revenue Ruling 2019-24

This ruling deals with the tax treatment of hard forks and airdrops, providing clarity on how taxpayers should treat new cryptocurrencies received from these events.

Staying Updated and Compliant

Given the complexity and evolving nature of cryptocurrency tax regulations, consulting with a tax professional who specializes in cryptocurrency can be beneficial. These professionals stay abreast of the latest IRS guidelines and can provide tailored advice.

The IRS has made efforts to educate taxpayers about their tax responsibilities related to cryptocurrencies. They have issued warnings about the consequences of non-compliance and have sent letters to suspected non-compliant taxpayers.

Additionally, taxpayers should regularly visit the IRS website or subscribe to updates to receive the latest information on cryptocurrency taxation. This proactive approach helps in adapting to new regulations and understanding the nuances of compliance.

Professional Tax Consultation for Cryptocurrency

In the crypto industry, the complexities of tax compliance can be daunting for both seasoned investors and newcomers alike. This is where professional tax consultation becomes invaluable. 

Tax professionals who specialize in cryptocurrency can offer expert advice tailored to the unique requirements of crypto transactions, ensuring that all tax obligations are met accurately and efficiently.

The Need for Professional Tax Consultation in Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency transactions involve various activities that could trigger tax events—such as trading, mining, staking, and earning crypto through airdrops. 

Each of these activities has specific tax implications, and the lack of clear historical precedence makes the process even more challenging. Tax professionals can decipher these complexities and help investors navigate through the maze of IRS regulations and requirements.

Benefits of Hiring a Crypto Tax Consultant

Hiring a consultant to help you deal with cryptocurrency taxes, capital gains or loss, tax forms, and federal income tax withholding matters benefit you in these ways:

Expertise and Specialization

Crypto tax consultants are well-versed in both the tax code and the specific nuances of cryptocurrency transactions. 

Plus, they understand how to apply the existing tax laws to a variety of scenarios, from simple trades to more complex situations like forks, airdrops, and mining rewards.

Error Minimization

Given the volatile nature of cryptocurrency prices, calculating gains and losses can become complicated. Professionals use sophisticated tools and software designed specifically for crypto tax calculations to ensure accuracy, reducing the likelihood of errors and the risk of potential audits.

Strategic Tax Planning

Crypto tax professionals don’t just ensure compliance; they also provide strategic advice on how to structure transactions to minimize tax liabilities. 

This might include strategies like loss harvesting or timing the sale of assets to benefit from long-term versus short-term capital gains tax rates.

Staying Updated

Tax laws concerning cryptocurrency are still developing, with new guidelines and regulations emerging frequently. Professional tax consultants stay updated on these changes, ensuring that their clients’ reporting remains compliant with the latest tax laws.

How to Choose the Right Cryptocurrency Tax Consultant

When choosing an expert to handle your crypto capital gains:

  • Look for a consultant who specializes in cryptocurrency. Their specific focus on crypto ensures a deeper understanding of the related issues and regulations.
  • Check reviews and testimonials, and consider the consultant’s experience in the field. Experienced professionals are more likely to provide accurate and effective tax advice.
  • Inquire about the tools and technology the consultant uses. Reliable tax software tailored for crypto can significantly enhance the accuracy of tax calculations and reporting.
  • Your consultant should be able to explain complex tax concepts in simple terms, ensuring you understand your tax situation and obligations.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Crypto Taxation

As the cryptocurrency market continues to evolve, so too does the landscape of crypto taxation. In future several key trends and developments are likely to shape the future of how governments around the world tax cryptocurrencies.

Increased Regulation and Clarity

One of the most significant shifts we can anticipate is an increase in regulatory clarity. Many countries have begun to recognize the need for more precise guidelines that define cryptocurrency’s legal and tax status. 

This is not only to increase tax revenue but also to protect investors and stabilize the market. Regulatory bodies like the IRS in the United States are likely to continue refining their policies, offering clearer rules for reporting and taxation. 

This could include more detailed instructions on how to report different types of crypto transactions, such as staking, airdrops, and DeFi (decentralized finance) activities.

Adoption of Advanced Tracking and Reporting Tools

With the complexity of tracking transactions across various platforms, there is a growing demand for sophisticated technology solutions. 

We can expect the development and adoption of more advanced crypto tax software that can integrate more seamlessly with different wallets and exchanges. 

These tools will likely use AI and blockchain technology to provide real-time tracking of transactions and automatic reporting capabilities, making compliance easier for both individual investors and businesses.

Global Tax Collaboration

As cryptocurrencies do not adhere to traditional geographical boundaries, international cooperation in tax regulation will become more critical. 

It is likely that global organizations will emerge or expand their roles to foster agreements between countries on how to handle crypto taxation, preventing tax evasion and ensuring compliance across borders. 

This global approach will also aim to minimize the discrepancies in tax treatment that can lead to arbitrage opportunities for savvy traders.

Expansion of Taxable Events

Currently, taxable events for cryptocurrencies primarily include selling, trading, or spending crypto. However, as the crypto economy develops, we might see a broader range of taxable events. 

For instance, participation in governance decisions through tokens and the receipt of certain types of digital assets might also become subject to taxation. Governments will need to keep pace with the innovation in the sector to capture all relevant activities within the tax net.

Education and Public Awareness

As regulations become more complex and widespread, there will be an increasing need for education around crypto taxation. 

Governments and educational institutions might start to offer more resources and training programs to help taxpayers understand their obligations. As a result, ncreased public awareness and understanding will be crucial to ensure compliance and minimize unintentional tax evasion.

The Importance of Compliance in Crypto Tax Reporting

Compliance in crypto tax reporting is crucial for several reasons, both for the individual taxpayer and the broader financial and regulatory environment. 

Ensuring Legal Compliance

First and foremost, compliance with tax regulations ensures legality. Tax laws apply to cryptocurrency transactions just as they do to traditional financial transactions. 

The IRS, for example, treats cryptocurrency as property, making gains and losses from crypto transactions subject to capital gains tax. Failing to report these transactions can lead to severe penalties, including fines and legal action. 

Avoiding Penalties and Audits

The penalties for non-compliance can be huge. Tax authorities like the IRS have made it clear that they are enhancing their capabilities to track and audit crypto transactions. 

They are increasingly using advanced technology to analyze blockchain transactions to identify unreported activity. By complying with tax laws, taxpayers can avoid costly penalties and the stress of undergoing tax audits. 

Building Trust and Stability

Compliance also plays a crucial role in building trust and stability in the burgeoning crypto market. As more investors and the general public gain confidence in the fairness and security of cryptocurrency transactions, the market can grow more stable. 

Compliance also helps mitigate the risk of fraud and money laundering, which are often associated with the anonymity of blockchain technologies. Regulated and compliant operations attract more substantial investment and foster a healthier market ecosystem.

Facilitating Market Growth and Innovation

Compliance can also drive broader acceptance and integration of cryptocurrencies into the global financial system. 

When crypto traders and companies adhere to tax regulations, it signals to regulators and lawmakers that the crypto industry is mature and responsible. 

This can lead to more favorable regulations, fostering an environment where innovation and growth are encouraged. 

Providing Clarity and Fairness

Compliance helps ensure that everyone pays their fair share, which is essential for the equitable distribution of tax obligations. 

It also provides clarity for investors about the costs and benefits of investing in cryptocurrencies. This helps investors make more informed decisions, which is beneficial for the overall health of the financial markets.

Wrapping Up

Compliance in crypto tax reporting is not just a legal requirement but a cornerstone of a mature, stable, and trustworthy cryptocurrency market. It protects individuals from legal repercussions, promotes fairness, facilitates market growth, and supports the development of clear and effective regulatory frameworks.

Clear guidelines and advanced tools will make tax reporting easier and ensure legality. By staying informed and compliant, individuals can avoid penalties and contribute to a trustworthy, stable crypto market that fosters growth and innovation in the financial landscape.


Do You Need to Report if You Haven't Sold?

No, if you haven't sold or traded your cryptocurrency, you generally don't need to report it on your taxes. However, other activities like mining or earning crypto as income do require reporting.

What are The Consequences of Failing to Report Crypto on Taxes?

Not reporting cryptocurrency on taxes can lead to audits, penalties, and fines. In severe cases, it might even result in criminal charges for tax evasion.

What should you know about deducting crypto losses?

You can deduct losses on crypto transactions if they are reported correctly. These losses can offset other capital gains or up to $3,000 of income, helping reduce your overall tax liability.

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Unsold Cryptocurrency?

No, holding cryptocurrency without selling or trading does not trigger a taxable event. Taxes are typically due when you realize gains by selling or trading your crypto.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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