The 2020 Form 1040 asks whether at any time during 2020, a person received, sold, sent, exchanged or otherwise acquired any financial interest in any virtual currency. If a taxpayer’s only transactions involving virtual currency during 2020 were purchases of virtual currency, they are not required to answer ‘yes’ to the question.
Cryptocurrency is a type of virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure transactions that are digitally recorded on a distributed ledger, such as a blockchain. A transaction involving cryptocurrency that is recorded on a distributed ledger is referred to as an “on-chain” transaction; a transaction that is not recorded on the distributed ledger is referred to as an “off-chain” transaction.
The IRS issued Notice 2014-21, 2014-16 I.R.B. 938, explaining that virtual currency is treated as property for Federal income tax purposes and providing examples of how longstanding tax principles applicable to transactions involving property apply to virtual currency. The frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) below expand upon the examples provided in Notice 2014-21 and apply those same longstanding tax principles to additional situations.
The Internal Revenue Code and regulations require taxpayers to maintain records that are sufficient to establish the positions taken on tax returns. You should therefore maintain, for example, records documenting receipts, sales, exchanges, or other dispositions of virtual currency and the fair market value of the virtual currency.