Newsletters

Additional Guidance Provided on Receipt of Cryptocurrency, Rev. Rul. 2023-14

The IRS has released a revenue ruling providing additional guidance concerning receipt of cryptocurrency. If a cash-method taxpayer stakes cryptocurrency native to a proof-of-stake blockchain and receives additional units of cryptocurrency as rewards when validation occurs, the fair market value of the validation rewards received is included in the taxpayer’s gross income in the tax year in which the taxpayer gains dominion and control over the validation rewards. The same is true if a taxpayer stakes cryptocurrency native to a proof-of-stake blockchain through a cryptocurrency exchange and receives additional units of cryptocurrency as rewards as a result of the validation

Scenario in the Ruling

The revenue ruling presents a scenario in which transactions in a cryptocurrency that is convertible virtual currency are validated by a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. A cash-method taxpayer validates a new block of transactions on the cryptocurrency blockchain, receiving two units of the cryptocurrency as validation rewards. Pursuant to the cryptocurrency protocol, during a brief period ending on Date 2, the taxpayer lacks the ability to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any interest in the two units of cryptocurrency in any manner. On the following day (Date 3), the taxpayer has the ability to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the two cryptocurrency units.

Analysis and Holding

Cryptocurrency that is convertible virtual currency is treated as property for Federal income tax purposes and general tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions involving cryptocurrency. For example, a taxpayer who receives cryptocurrency as a payment for goods or services or who mines cryptocurrency must include the fair market value of the cryptocurrency in the taxpayer’s gross income in the tax year the taxpayer obtains dominion and control of the cryptocurrency.

In the scenario, two units of cryptocurrency represent the taxpayer’s reward for staking units and validating transactions on the blockchain. On Date 3, the taxpayer has an accession to wealth as the taxpayer gains dominion and control through the taxpayer’s ability, as of this date, to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the two units of cryptocurrency received as validation rewards. Accordingly, the fair market value of the two units of cryptocurrency is included in taxpayer’s gross income for the tax year that includes Date 3.

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