Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction: Exploring the Impact of Digital Assets on Global Finance
- 2 Cryptocurrencies and Tax Evasion: A Growing Concern
- 3 The Tax Gap and Digital Asset Transactions
- 4 Exploring Taxpayers’ Activities with Digital Assets
- 5 Key Aspects of New Digital Asset Reporting Rules
- 6 Specific Information to be Reported
- 7 Importance of the U.S. New Information Reporting Rules for Digital Assets
- 8 Implications For Taxpayers (Digital Asset Owners)
- 9 Implications for Digital Asset Brokers
- 10 Timeline for The Proposed Rules
- 11 Criticisms Against The Proposed Rules
- 12 Conclusion
- 13 About Identity.com
Introduction: Exploring the Impact of Digital Assets on Global Finance
On August 25, 2023, the US Treasury Department and IRS proposed new regulations for digital assets, set to take effect on January 1, 2025. These regulations aim to bring the tax reporting for digital assets in line with that of traditional financial instruments. Under the new rules, digital asset brokers will be required to report details of all digital asset transactions, including sales, exchanges, and transfers. This marks a crucial step in addressing the regulatory uncertainty surrounding digital assets and fostering their integration into the broader financial system.
The global financial landscape has significantly transformed since the widespread adoption of digital assets. These assets challenge traditional concepts of value and exchange by utilizing cryptography for transaction verification and distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain, for record-keeping. Renowned for their low transaction fees, decentralization, and enhanced confidentiality through distributed ledgers, digital assets have gained popularity as payment methods and investment vehicles.
The COVID-19 pandemic, with its mixed impact on various industries, particularly affected the digital asset sector. There was a surge in interest in cryptocurrencies as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty, accelerating existing trends such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and institutional adoption. Consequently, the industry experienced a spike in new users and increased trading volumes.
But this growth has not come without problems. People worry about risks like price volatility, market manipulation, and regulatory uncertainty. The crypto market has experienced ups and downs in recent years. Its market value dropped from around $3 trillion in November 2021 to $1.4 trillion in mid-November 2023.
Also, because digital assets are decentralized, it is hard for governments to enforce tax laws and stop illegal activities. To deal with these worries, the US government has taken steps to make sure that people correctly report their digital asset activities for tax purposes.
Cryptocurrencies and Tax Evasion: A Growing Concern
Tax evasion and fraudulent activities have become prevalent issues associated with digital assets because of their pseudonymous and decentralized nature. The pseudonymity of digital assets makes it challenging to link transactions with individuals or firms, leading to significant underreporting of taxable income in the sector. Tax evasion involves deliberately concealing income, assets, or financial transactions to evade paying taxes. In order to evade taxes, some people or businesses knowingly misrepresent their tax obligations, underreport income, or engage in other fraudulent activities.
The Tax Gap and Digital Asset Transactions
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes that the tax gap, or the difference between taxes owed and paid, is a problem that worsens because there isn’t enough third-party information reporting to the IRS. The use of digital assets in everyday transactions contributes to this gap. To complete transactions involving traditional currencies or financial assets, individuals or entities usually require information reporting.
For instance, payment processors and credit card issuers now handle digital asset payments. It is possible to buy, sell, or invest in digital assets, with some financial institutions even converting traditional stock ownership into digital tokens.
The tax gap has severe effects on a country’s economy. When individuals and businesses fail to pay their fair share of taxes, the government’s ability to fund public services and infrastructure projects diminishes. This can lead to budget deficits and hinder economic development.
According to the IRS, the annual tax revenue lost from cryptocurrency sales is estimated at around $50 billion. The Biden administration enacted the Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021 to address this gap. This legislation expanded broker information reporting to digital asset transactions, mandating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to implement the regulation.
In August 2023, the US Department of the Treasury and IRS introduced proposed regulations for tax reporting concerning cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens, and other digital assets. These new reporting requirements apply to both centralized and some decentralized exchanges, crypto payment processors, and specific online wallets.
Exploring Taxpayers’ Activities with Digital Assets
Because of the flexibility of digital assets, they are in use for many other financial activities, including:
- Transactions, including buying, selling, and exchanging digital assets.
- Derivative transactions using digital assets like options, regulated futures contracts, and forward contracts.
- Using digital assets to pay for goods and services, including taxes and other fees to government entities and real estate purchases.
- Payments that are executed using smart contracts or through an intermediary (digital asset payment processor).
As taxpayers navigate this growing digital asset landscape, clear and comprehensive tax regulations become paramount. A strong regulatory framework is crucial to ensure transparency, compliance, and a well-functioning ecosystem. It provides individuals and businesses with a tax-compliant environment for engaging in digital asset activities.
Key Aspects of New Digital Asset Reporting Rules
As you’ve read above, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS have proposed new regulations to align the tax treatment of digital assets with that of traditional financial instruments. Here are the essential elements of these proposed regulations:
- The US Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) propose this regulation to subject digital assets to the same tax laws as traditional financial instruments.
- Digital assets are treated as property for federal income tax purposes. While existing regulations cover property and real estate transactions, they do not explicitly include digital assets as a type of property that requires reporting. They were also not explicit about reporting real estate transactions that involved digital assets as payment.
- These proposed regulations add digital assets to the properties, requiring brokers to file information returns.
- The proposed regulations require brokers to file information returns for all digital asset transactions, covering sales, exchanges, and transfers, including those to non-brokers.
- Covered digital assets include stable coins and NFTs, while assets limited to closed systems (e.g., video game currencies) are excluded.
- The definition of “broker” is expanded to include any person who regularly provides services to effect the transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person. As a broker, you know the identity of the parties involved in the transaction and the nature of it. As a result, cryptocurrency exchanges, trading platforms, hosted wallet providers, stablecoin issuers, and payment processors can now be subject to the information reporting requirements.
- A real estate reporting person receiving payment for real estate in digital assets is also considered a broker.
- Brokers must file Form 1099-DA with the IRS and provide customers with copies for each taxable year in which they report transactions.
- The new rules require digital asset brokers to begin reporting transactions occurring on or after January 1, 2025.
Specific Information to be Reported
Brokers are required to report detailed information about each digital asset transaction, including:
The identity of the customer, including their name, address, and taxpayer identification number
The name and type of the digital asset sold, along with the number of units transferred
The digital asset address(es) from which the digital asset was transferred
The gross proceeds generated from the sale of digital assets
The fair market value of the digital assets exchanged
The acquisition date and basis of the digital assets
Any additional information mandated by the form or instructions
Importance of the U.S. New Information Reporting Rules for Digital Assets
The proposed rules are expected to bring some benefits, including:
- Increased Tax Compliance: The new reporting rules will make it more difficult for taxpayers to evade taxes using digital assets. Brokers must tell the IRS about digital asset transactions. This helps the government keep track of taxable profits and find people who don’t follow the rules.
- Promote Financial Stability: Many see introducing the new reporting rules as a positive step toward stabilizing the use of digital assets. Establishing clearer regulatory guidelines will help the government boost investor and institutional confidence, leading to a more stable and sustainable financial ecosystem.
- Increased tax revenue: Accurate reporting ensures investors pay the correct taxes, significantly boosting tax revenue.
- Improved Tax Administration: The reporting rules will provide the IRS with valuable data to improve its tax administration capabilities.
Implications For Taxpayers (Digital Asset Owners)
- Increased Tax Liability for Individual Investors: Individual investors trading digital assets may experience increased tax liability, potentially increasing their overall tax obligations.
- Reduced Monitoring Costs: The new regulations could decrease the costs associated with monitoring and tracking digital asset portfolios.
- Privacy Concerns: Regulators mandate brokers to collect and store customer personal information. This requirement raises concerns about potential data breaches and identity theft incidents.
- Possible Drop in Trading Volume: people who value the anonymity of blockchain may trade fewer digital assets because of privacy worries.
- Increased Confidence in Broker Compliance: Enhanced regulation and compliance can increase confidence among digital asset owners. This boost in confidence could result in increased trading and participation in the digital asset market.
Implications for Digital Asset Brokers
Digital asset brokers will face higher compliance costs as they invest in new systems and processes to adhere to the reporting requirements. This could lead to increased fees for cryptocurrency users.
Timeline for The Proposed Rules
- August 2023: Proposed rules were published, initiating the public comment period.
- October 30, 2023 (Extended to November 13, 2023): The deadline for the public comment period is set to gather input and feedback. This includes contributions from stakeholders such as individuals, businesses, and organizations within the digital assets industry. Public feedback is important for making regulatory decisions and developing policies in a comprehensive and inclusive way.
- Early 2024: Expected issuance of final regulations by the IRS for the Information Reporting Rules for Digital Assets.
- 2025 Tax Filing Season: The proposed regulations for tax reporting are anticipated to be effective for brokers. They will be required to start submitting Form 1099-DA for transactions starting from 2025.
Criticisms Against The Proposed Rules
The proposed rules have drawn attention and criticism from cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts. Some critics argue that the new reporting rules are overly burdensome and could hinder innovation in the cryptocurrency industry. They argue that the rules are too complex and the reporting requirements are too broad.
Some privacy advocates have expressed concerns that the new reporting rules will make it easier for the government to track the financial transactions of cryptocurrency users. They argue that this could lead to increased government surveillance and potential abuse. Despite these criticisms, the IRS and many others view the new reporting rules as a positive step forward. They have welcomed comments and diverse perspectives from the public to refine the regulations for the nation’s benefit.
The US New Information Reporting Rules for Digital Assets represent a significant move towards transparency and tax compliance in the digital assets’ industry. Although there are criticisms, we anticipate positive outcomes. This should foster a more stable and sustainable growth trajectory. It’s crucial to note that the proposed rules are not final yet, and further edits may be made to address concerns. As the industry continues to grow, accurate reporting will become increasingly important to ensure that investors pay the correct taxes.
One of the procedures for ensuring that criminals are not exploiting the digital assets’ industry is following AML/CFT regulations. This includes implementing an effective KYC (Know Your Customer) process. Identity.com, as a future-oriented company, is helping many businesses by giving their customers a hassle-free identity verification process. This approach is essential for achieving KYC compliance, a key factor in preventing criminal activities within the financial system.
Our organization envisions a user-centric internet where individuals maintain control over their data. This commitment drives Identity.com to actively contribute to this future through innovative identity management systems and protocols. As members of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), we uphold the standards for the World Wide Web and work towards a more secure and user-friendly online experience.
Identity.com is an open-source ecosystem providing access to on-chain and secure identity verification. Our solutions improve the user experience and reduce onboarding friction through reusable and interoperable Gateway Passes. Please get in touch for more info about how we can help you with identity verification and general KYC processes.