What to Do If You Have Not Reported Your Crypto Trades on Last Year’s Tax Return

July 30, 2019 / by Patrick Camuso

According to the personal financial service Credit Karma, only about 0.04 percent (or 100 citizens out of 250,000) of United States citizens reported their cryptocurrency transactions to the IRS as of February 13.

Back in March of 2014, the IRS began providing some guidance for the taxation of Bitcoin, one of the most popular and mainstream cryptocurrencies. Because of these guidelines, cryptocurrencies are treated as property rather than currency.

Like all taxed property, when you report cryptocurrency to the IRS, what you owe will be based off of the price you bought it at, the price you sold it at, and the change in value between when you bought and sold it. Many experts believe this is not the ideal designation for cryptocurrencies, and may even become a deterrent in their adoption.

The IRS can go back up to three years to prosecute cases of tax evasion, and in cases where they find substantial error, they can decide to go back up to six years or more. If you did not report your cryptocurrency transactions properly in prior years the best course of action is to file an amended tax return.

Step 1: Calculate Your Tax Liability

When preparing your tax return, you are going to have to figure out your taxable income from cryptocurrencies for the year. This involves figuring out how much of your crypto assets were converted into non-crypto assets like cash or goods and services as well as other cryptocurrencies. Your cryptocurrency holdings aren’t taxable. Anytime you sold cryptocurrency or used it to buy something, have capital gains exposure.

You’ve already got records of most of those transactions, either on the blockchain or from your wallet provider, but converting it to dollars can be a real hassle since you’ll need to run the value of the cryptocurrency against the price of the crypto at the time of the transaction. First thing’s first, you’ll want to download all transaction data from the exchanges you use, which are usually available as CSV files. Some exchanges like Coinbase send users form 1099-K if they have received at least 20,000 US dollars cash sales of crypto-related to at least 200 transactions in a calendar year. However, if you don’t use an exchange, do your best to document every transaction.

If doing cryptocurrency tax is proving to be a challenging feat, you should consider enlisting the services of a qualified CPA at a  professional tax firm such as Camuso CPA.

Step 2: Amend your return

Once you have determined your capital gains liability, you should download a current IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This form comes with easy-to-follow instructions and requires you to only include new or updated information.

Step 3: Mail in your amended return

After preparing your amended tax return to reflect your cryptocurrency transactions they will be mailed to the IRS along with all applicable tax payments.

While paying taxes can at times be painful, it is very important that you include your crypto-trading activity with your tax return. A lot of traders are convinced that because of the anonymous, decentralized nature of Blockchain and crypto transactions, that there is no way for the government to see or know that they are making money trading/buying/selling cryptocurrency. Unfortunately for these people, this is just not true. The Blockchain is a distributed public ledger, meaning anyone can view the ledger at any time. Figuring out an individual’s activities on that ledger essentially comes down to associating a wallet address with a name. You can bet that the IRS is only gearing up to become proficient at doing that.

Ultimately, if you choose not to file your gains/losses, you will be committing blatant tax fraud to which the IRS can enforce a number of penalties, including criminal prosecution, five years in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000.

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.