The IRS intensifies crypto tax investigations – How much trouble are you in?


  • Recent updates from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) crime unit, which helped investigate Binance Holdings Ltd., show an increase in crypto tax evasion cases. 
  • In its 2023 fiscal year annual report filed on Dec. 4, the IRS investigation arm reported initiating 2,676 cases and identifying $37 billion in tax and financial offenses.
  • These investigations involve unreported income from failing to report capital gains from crypto sales, mining income, or cryptocurrency-based income like wages, rental income, and gambling winnings.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has significantly heightened its scrutiny of cryptocurrency transactions, leaving many individuals and businesses navigating the murky waters of potential tax liabilities. The surge in popularity of cryptocurrencies has not only caught the attention of investors and enthusiasts but has also become a focal point for tax authorities seeking to ensure compliance with existing tax regulations.

As the IRS intensifies its crypto tax investigations, the question on everyone’s mind is: How much trouble are you in? Whether you’re a seasoned investor, a casual trader, or a business leveraging cryptocurrencies, understanding the implications of these investigations is crucial to navigating the evolving landscape of taxation in the digital age.

IRS comes for crypto investors

According to a recent update from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) criminal unit, its investigation unit, which played a key part in the investigation of Binance Holdings Ltd., is currently seeing a significant increase in cases involving cryptocurrency tax evasion. 

This information was presented by Jim Lee, the chief of the IRS’s criminal investigative branch, during a press conference on Monday, December 4.

The IRS investigation arm stated that in the fiscal year 2023, it began more than 2,676 cases and detected more than $37 billion in tax and financial offenses. According to the team, there has been an increase in the use of digital assets, which has resulted in an increase in connected tax inquiries.

These investigations consist of unreported income resulting from failure to report capital gains from the sale of cryptocurrency, income earned from mining cryptocurrency, or income received in the form of cryptocurrency, such as wages, rental income, and gambling winnings

CI is also seeing evasion of payment violations, where the taxpayer fails to disclose ownership of cryptocurrency in an attempt to shield holdings.


Jim Lee emphasized a substantial transformation in the character of inquiries pertaining to cryptocurrencies during the last three years. More than 90% of ongoing cryptocurrency investigations were historically devoted to money laundering. 

Lee has observed, however, that roughly half of the ongoing investigations into digital assets concern tax-related matters over the past year.

The IRS has demanded that individuals record their digital currency transactions beginning with the tax year 2019. This instruction is also part of a larger strategy to combat tax avoidance involving digital assets. According to CI head Jim Lee:

Following the money is what we have done for more than 100 years […]This report is a reflection of the tremendous work our agency has accomplished in an ever-changing, challenging financial crime landscape.

Tax and other financial crimes know no borders, and our team will continue to uncover and dismantle egregious acts and criminal organizations. I could not be prouder of our team and our results.

Chief Jim Lee.

Regulators are taking crypto tax problems into their own hands not only in the United States, but around the world. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom has given a clear and unequivocal directive to Bitcoin users. Brazil, on the other hand, is considering taxing cryptocurrency users for their gains.

IRS and crypto crime – What’s the common ground?

Since stepping up its efforts to pursue crypto-related offenses in 2015, the IRS has seized more than $10 billion in digital assets. To curb instances of tax evasion, the government agency has also recommended additional laws on brokers’ reporting requirements.

The IRS team was critical in the criminal investigation into Binance, the world’s largest digital asset exchange. The corporation previously admitted guilt to anti-money laundering and sanctions crimes, leading to a $4.3 billion settlement.

This comprehensive resolution included the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, with the IRS acting as part of the Treasury Department.

IRS Criminal Investigation plays a vital role for tax administration and law enforcement, and the results from the past year dramatically illustrate the results […] Criminal Investigation’s work has identified tens of billions of dollars on issues including tax fraud, money laundering and cybercrimes.

The work of Criminal Investigation employees – who often put themselves in harm’s way to get the job done – continues to make a difference in helping uphold tax laws and protect taxpayers.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel

Furthermore, the IRS has actively assisted in important digital asset seizures, including the spectacular recovery of $3.6 billion in Bitcoin stolen during the Bitfinex breach in 2016.

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 decision.

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Florence Muchai

Florence is a crypto enthusiast and writer who loves to travel. As a digital nomad, she explores the transformative power of blockchain technology. Her writing reflects the limitless possibilities for humanity to connect and grow.

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