Form 1099-K: What Cryptocurrency Investors Need to Know in 2019

August 16, 2019 / by Patrick Camuso

The IRS has demonstrated it intends to enforce existing 1099 reporting rules on cryptocurrency exchanges, but it has not followed up by providing clarity regarding those rules. For instance, trading platforms might have to send 1099-B forms to users who exchange one type of coin for another, but they’re not explicitly required to send the forms the way brokers are for stock trades. Generally, requirements surrounding the 1099-B remain unclear for cryptocurrencies.

The IRS has already forced a Coinbase to report users on form 1099-K, the same form home-share and ride-share companies use to report transactions with homeowners and drivers. The federal reporting threshold for the 1099-K is currently set at $20,000 and 200 transactions per year.

The 1099-K lacks the cost basis details required to capture the capital gain/loss calculation that would ultimately determine taxable income and tax revenue for the IRS.

If people are transacting in digital currency, it’s important that anyone understands that there’s a tax obligation on their part. Whether they’re paying their taxes or whether they’re day traders– it doesn’t matter. Any time there is a transaction with digital currency, it’s important that people understand there is a tax liability.

The reason that 1099-K are not usually accurate is that they do not report the relevant cost basis data necessary to accurately calculate capital gains/losses. Additionally, this form does not reconcile trades across multiple exchanges. Our team at Camuso CPA works with cryptocurrency investors and traders on a daily basis to accurately calculate all of your cryptocurrency transactions in order to properly report them for tax purposes.

Properly tracking and reporting your cost basis is imperative to protect your assets from penalties and interest as a result of underreporting. When analyzing cryptocurrency portfolios our starting point is the last ending tax year’s cost basis for each asset which is considered along with all relevant transactions from the current year to arrive at both an ending tax liability and ending cost basis for each respective asset you are holding. This means that if you did not track your cost basis correctly in prior years or did not report it that your portfolio calculation for years following that will also be incorrect. This can cause cascading and costly issues across multiple years of tax returns in many cases.

Analyzing financial transactions are a detailed process that can easily be plagued with costly errors if you do not have a structured process and workflow in place. Analyzing crypto transactions adds another layer of complexity due to the nascency of this industry and the reporting standards from exchanges. Without the proper experience and training, it is very easy for well-meaning accountants to make costly errors related to the portfolio calculations and advisory they provide investors.

Be careful and do your due diligence. At the end of the day, your tax return is your responsibility and it is your job to work with an experienced CPA firm to protect your assets. I would suggest that investors work with a CPA that not only understands and invests in crypto but also a CPA that has a strong background in financial services.

Patrick Camuso, CPA is founder and owner of Camuso CPA, a CPA firm serving cryptocurrency investors, miners and businesses nationwide. Camuso CPA was the first CPA firm in the country to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for professional services. Camuso CPA works with investors and businesses on cryptocurrency accounting, tax preparation and tax planning.