On May 12, the IRS issued a statement of work soliciting”consulting Solutions to support a taxpayer examination between virtual money.” The SOW was sent to popular cryptocurrency tax software companies such as CyrptoTrader.Tax, amongst others, to provide the IRS with the market expertise necessary to identify and pursue cases where taxpayers’ reporting (or lack thereof) of digital assets is inconsistent with their actual cryptocurrency transactions. Quite simply: the IRS is hiring external contractors that are experts in cryptocurrency to help them identify cryptocurrency investors whose tax yields either omit or include incorrect data regarding cryptocurrency transactions. There’s just 1 reason why the IRS would employ experts in cryptocurrency as outside contractors: because they plan to significantly boost the quantity and scrutiny of cryptocurrency audits.
How Can the IRS Treat Cryptocurrency?
The IRS defines virtual money as”a digital representation of Any asset with these attributes,”[r]egardless of the tag applied,… is treated as virtual money for [f]ederal income tax purposes.” Some virtual currencies are convertible, which means that they have equivalent values in a couple of conventional currencies (fiat) and can act as replacements for them. The more well-known virtual currencies, for example, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple are termed as cryptocurrencies since they use cryptography to secure transactions which are digitally recorded onto a dispersed ledger, like a blockchain.
IRS Advice on Treatment of Cryptocurrency
The IRS issued the first formal guidance on how cryptocurrency should be taxed. In a sudden move, the IRS applied general principles of tax law to conclude that virtual currency is property, instead of”currency,” for federal tax purposes. Consequently, an exchange of one virtual money for the following (e.g., Bitcoin for Ethereum) is a taxable trade, resulting in profit or loss in addition to a reporting responsibility on the part of the taxpayer. This creates a whole lot of crypto trades subject to the positive capital gain and loss treatment instead of the more onerous ordinary income treatment. Mining and another receipt of units of cryptocurrency, for example being paid in cryptocurrency, create tax duties and may need to be reported as ordinary income when they constitute income. Much like with the purchase of stock traded on a public trade, just buying or buying cryptocurrency does not make a taxable event. Instead, it is the sale or exchange of digital currency, or receipt of digital currency in exchange for services performed or alternative property, that produces a taxable event.
The IRS provided additional guidance in Revenue Ruling 2019-24, Discovering that a cryptocurrency”hard fork” (one cryptocurrency splitting into two) in which no units of a fresh cryptocurrency are received does not lead to gross earnings, but an”airdrop” (free distribution of components of cryptocurrency) does. Besides, the IRS has released and published on its website a set of frequently asked questions regarding the tax treatment of additional virtual money transactions, including those where the digital money is held as a capital asset.
In 2017, the IRS filed a suit against Coinbase (one of the most significant crypto exchanges) to attain account holders’ names and account information. Why? Because throughout the years 2013 through 2015 Coinbase had almost six million customers, but just 800 – 900 taxpayers filed tax returns that reported gains from cryptocurrency. That’s a huge gap, and the court agreed that the IRS had a valid interest in investigating further. In 2018, Coinbase switched over 13,000 names into the IRS as a result of the lawsuit.
Not surprisingly, only over a year following the IRS received 13,000 names from Coinbase, the IRS sent approximately 10,000″soft letters” A so-called”tender letter” isn’t an IRS audit, but instead warns the recipient that they might wish to think about taking a particular action on their tax returns before an audit occurs. Soft letters certainly don’t feel”soft” to the recipient, because anybody who gets one knows that the IRS understands something special about them. If that isn’t on the tax return, that’s when trouble starts. Those soft letters didn’t necessarily signify that something was wrong on the receivers’ tax returns, but it may have been and gave everyone a fantastic faith opportunity to confirm the return and be sure all crypto was reported properly.
Nearly a year has gone by, and the IRS is looking to hire Crypto specialists to assist with audits of taxpayers that have crypto. The statement of work looks for builders that can”ingest all data supplied by the IRS, in addition to any attendant or associated data the contractor collects via their systems.” Even though a cryptocurrency blockchain is unknown, it remains vulnerable to snore as a public ledger. According to the statement of work, contractors should have the ability to analyze blockchain data and software programming interface keys got from virtual currency exchanges. Further, a contractor must”be available to consult with the IRS during meetings with taxpayers or their representatives,” including meetings with IRS Appeals Officers, “assist the IRS with trial preparation,” and, if necessary,” to testify at trial for a summary witness describing the calculations derived from the underlying statistics.”
Can the IRS Do That?
You May Be thinking, wait, I believed IRS data is private and they Can’t provide my tax return information out of the IRS agency, right? Yes, in general, that’s the rule: that the IRS must keep tax yield information private. But there are exceptions to this rule, and the IRS has employed outside contractors earlier. The IRS has long relied on such advice for valuation functions –most often for valuing non-cash charitable contributions, gifts, and diversification. Conservation easements and artwork are especially controversial valuation items, often pitting the IRS’ pros against the citizen’s. Indeed, for artwork, the IRS has institutionalized reliance on external expert guidance in the form of the Commissioner’s Art Advisory Panel, comprised of academics and industry representatives from the private, public, and non-profit businesses, and also the Art Appraisal Services (AAS) unit at the IRS Appeals Office. The panel provides advice and makes recommendations to AAS regarding the acceptability of appraisals that taxpayers submit supporting the fair market value claimed on the wide assortment of works of art featured in income, estate, and gift tax returns. Besides, anytime a tax return chosen for audit includes an appraisal of one work of art valued at or greater than $50,000, the examining agent or appeals officer must consult AAS for possible referral to the panel, which meets in closed session to review each of known appraisals.
Procedures adopted by the AAS guarantee strict compliance with the Confidentiality requirements. These processes ensure that information supplied to panel members does not contain the taxpayer’s name, the kind of tax, the taxation consequences of any adjustments to the evaluated value, or details concerning the appraiser. To decrease the chance that panelists comprehend a citizen’s whole collection, the works of art are usually discussed in alphabetical order by artist or, in the instance of decorative artwork, by object type. When there’s a conflict of interest with a panelist along with also a work of art under inspection, the panelist doesn’t take part in the conversation and is excused from this portion of the assembly.
In sharp contrast with the way that it has routinely used outside expert Information on art appraisal audits, the IRS pushed the envelope when in 2014, it engaged the California-based litigation powerhouse, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, to aid with Microsoft’s transfer pricing audit, exposing the company’s 2004 to 2006 tax years. The $2.2 million deal with Quinn Emanuel was approved by a Temporary Treasury Regulation issued in June 2014, issued fourteen days later the contract was awarded. The law has been issued under the IRS’ jurisdiction for summoning”publications, books, records, or other data” for evaluation and summoning people for taking their testimony under oath. These regulations have now been finalized, and provides builders may”receive and review” the summoned materials and”participate fully” in taking the testimony of the summoned person” in the presence and under the guidance of an IRS officer or employee.”
News of the Quinn Emanuel contract provoked sharp criticism from At a summons enforcement action, Microsoft contested the validity of the law on these grounds. But a taxpayer challenging summons enforcement is in for an uphill struggle. Even though the district court expressed concern in”Quinn Emanuel’s level of involvement in this audit” and has been bothered by”[t]he idea that the IRS could’farm out’ lawful aid to a private law firm,” the court-ordered enforcement of the summons. , 154 F. Supp. 3d 1134, 1143-44 (W.D. Wash. 2015).
Although the Court declared the summons, a warning that”this instance may This new subsection precludes an external consultant from examining summoned”books, books, records, or other information,” except for”the sole purpose of providing expert evaluation and assistance into the Internal Revenue Service.” Additionally, it prohibits any individual, “other than an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service,” from” question[ing] that a [summoned] witness under oath.” It’s a matter of when and just how the IRS’s use of outside specialists in cryptocurrency instances will be challenged in court – not if.
The Bottom Line
The Coinbase reporting gap sets this problem in perspective: in Only One exchange there have been more than 6 million customers and less than one million Even the IRS is justifiably wondering who the rest of the account holders are, why they have not reported any cryptocurrency transactions on their tax returns, and also will probably be appearing soon to create some strong examples from cryptocurrency account holders who fail to satisfy their income tax obligations.