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America’s IRS Wants Cryptocurrency Exchanges Declared on Tax Forms

America’s dreaded tax-collecting agency is sending “a strong warning to millions of crypto holders who aren’t complying with the law that they must file required forms,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The front page of this year’s tax forms — just below “Name” and “Address” — will ask filers to declare whether they’ve received or exchanged any virtual currencies.

The Journal calls it “setting a trap for cryptocurrency tax cheats.”
“This placement is unprecedented and will make it easier for the IRS to win cases against taxpayers who check ‘No’ when they should check ‘Yes, ‘” says Ed Zollars, a CPA with Kaplan Financial Education who updates tax professionals on legal developments… The change to the crypto question and other recent actions show the IRS is taking cryptocurrencies seriously as a threat to the tax system, whether the noncompliance is by enthusiasts who owe little or by sophisticated international criminals. In two recent nontax criminal cases — one involving theft by North Korea and the other involving the sale of child pornography by a Dutch national — the IRS has provided key assistance because of its growing expertise in cryptocurrencies….

For their part, many crypto users are angry with the IRS’s guidance, which treats bitcoin, ether and their kin as property rather than currency. So if a crypto holder uses it to buy something or exchanges one cryptocurrency for another, there’s usually a capital gain or loss to report on the tax return. “Buying a sandwich with cryptocurrency shouldn’t be a taxable event,” says Sean Cover, a New York City cryptocurrency holder who works in finance for a nonprofit group. He says that in 2017 he had more than 500 transactions on several platforms, and it took him 10 hours to prepare his crypto tax forms even though he paid for special software. Like some members of Congress, Mr. Cover supports a $200 threshold before crypto transactions would need to be reported. The IRS says it’s up to Congress to change the law….

Meanwhile, the IRS is forging ahead with other crypto compliance measures. Earlier this month, it offered rewards up to $625,000 to code-breakers who can crack so-called privacy coins like Monero that attract illicit activity because they claim to be untraceable… The IRS is also sending a new round of letters to crypto holders who may not have complied with the tax rules, expanding on last year’s mailing of about 10,000 letters. Tax specialists say the recipients are often customers of Coinbase, which was ordered by a federal court to turn over information on some accounts to the IRS.

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