As the April 18 tax deadline approaches, most cryptocurrency investors still aren’t prepared to file, according to a survey from CoinTracker, a crypto portfolio tracking and tax software company.
As of March 27, some 96% of digital currency investors hadn’t submitted their returns, the findings show, and 75% aren’t ready to.
One of the issues is a widespread crypto tax knowledge gap, with confusion about which activity is taxable, said Shehan Chandrasekera, a CPA and head of tax strategy at CoinTracker.
Indeed, most survey respondents couldn’t successfully identify the tax consequences of several common transactions.
“We are continually seeing the misconception that if you didn’t cash out to [U.S.] dollars, you don’t have to report anything,” said Matt Metras, an enrolled agent and cryptocurrency tax specialist at MDM Financial Services in Rochester, New York.
Cryptocurrency may trigger capital gains or losses when sold or exchanged for another coin. The profit or loss is the difference between your purchase price, known as basis, and the value upon sale or exchange.
You may qualify for long-term capital gains rates of 0%, 15% or 20%, if you held the currency for more than one year. However, exchanging assets after less than one year creates short-term capital gains, with regular income tax rates, up to 37% for top earners.
This tax season, filers must respond to a yes-or-no question about “virtual currency” on the front page of their tax return. You may answer no if you bought and held cryptocurrency with U.S. dollars or transferred coins between your wallets.
However, you’ll have to say yes if you sold cryptocurrency, exchanged one virtual coin for another, used it to make a purchase, received it as payment, acquired it through mining or staking and more.
Tips for last-minute filers
With cryptocurrency exchanges still not required to send Form 1099-B, covering profits and losses from yearly transactions, it may be challenging to calculate your tax bill, particularly with a large volume of activity.
“My advice would be to take your time and get it right,” Metras said. If you need help, you won’t likely find a crypto tax professional before the deadline. However, filing an extension “buys you more time,” he added, to gather information and schedule an appointment.
Crypto tax software may help reconcile transactions, but it may not be 100% accurate, Metras warned. “Make sure you’re reviewing the stuff that’s coming out of it.”
If your capital losses exceed capital gains, there’s an opportunity to write off up to $3,000 per year to offset regular income, Chandrasekera said, and if losses exceed $3,000, you can carry it forward into future years.