The IRS continues to issue updated guidance on all things crypto. We help you make sense of it.
When you buy Bitcoin and sell it for a profit, you are subject to capital-gains taxes. This is the case whether you buy Bitcoin and sell it for dollars or whether you exchange it for other cryptocurrencies for a profit. This is also the case if you buy Bitcoin, it goes up in value and then you exchange the Bitcoin for goods or services.
The IRS has given guidance twice on cryptocurrency tax issues in IRS Revenue Ruling 2014-21 and 2019-24. The critical determination by the IRS in 2014 was that cryptocurrency is property, not currency, for federal tax purposes. This critical determination meant that crypto-trading profits will be treated similar to stock-trading profits, as stock and crypto are both considered property for tax purposes.
Note: This is an update of a piece published in March 2021 that reflects new guidance administered by the IRS over the subsequent year.