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Bitcoin and Crypto Taxes :: Frequently Asked Questions
Just spent about 12 hours figuring out my tax liabilities with bitcoin.tax. Here is how it went...
I have been reading more lately about all the US tax liabilities that can come into play in the crypto world and have started worrying about how much I would owe for 2017. I was starting to lose some sleep on the matter and finally decided to organize all of my activity once and for all. I figured I'd write this post for other people who might want to find out what I have learned in this process. I am filing in the US, but some of this might apply to people in other countries as well. If you have just bought and HODL'd then it will probably be much simpler for you. But if you have done ICOs and any trading and are worried about this stuff, don't worry too much. Its totally possible to get yourself organized with a little bit of work. Background Bought my first ETH in Feb '17 from Coinbase and since then:
Have traded probably 50 different tokens on 10 different exchanges
Have participated in 21 ICOs
Have received Airdropped tokens
Have sold some and withdrawn profits to my bank account
The Tools The best place to get started is bitcoin.tax Referral Link Normal Link I signed up for the 1 year plan for $19.95 (they also accept crypto) and believe me its worth every penny. You can use it for free, but are limited to 100 items (I ended up having > 1500). It really does almost everything for you, so you don't have to worry about figuring out the cost basis yourself. The only time USD was involved was buying via coinbase, everything else was handled as a token to token trade. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is a must if you are doing any trading on the non-supported exchanges because you might have to massage the data into the correct format. Etherscan Unfortunately, for some trades and the ICOs, I had to go directly to Etherscan to track down the data. DeltaBalances This is a lifesaver for tracking trades made on ED. I wasn't able to get the export feature working, but copy/pasting the table into Excel was fine. Html Table to CSV If you are having trouble copy/pasting table data this comes in handy. You can just copy the raw table HTML from Chrome Dev Tools and get a nice CSV. Exchanges I am only going to list the exchanges I use and how I was able to get the data into bitcoin.tax. But regardless of the method, make sure you verify all the data that was imported. The system did a bad import on my Bitfinex data and I had to wipe it and reimport because it was missing a bunch of rows. All the importing is done on the trading tab of bitcoin.tax. Some exchanges require you to download a .csv file from the exchange website, and some have direct API access. Just follow the tutorials on bitcoin.tax for each exchange. The Easy Ones Bitcoin.tax supports API data pulls for these exchanges: Bitfinex, Coinbase, GDAX, Kraken. For these, I still recommend going to the exchanges and downloading a copy of your history for your personal records. You need to login to the exchange and download trade history and then use bitcoin.tax's import tool for these: Binance, Bittrex, Poloniex The Tough Ones Trades made on Etherdelta present a bit of a challenge. There is no direct import into bitcoin.tax so you will have to manually compile a CSV and import it to their system. They give you a template to follow with the required data and it will require a bit of "massaging" to get the ED data to the correct format. For this is it extremely helpful to use DeltaBalances. For each wallet you use you will need to check the trade history and go back a sufficient number of days to cover your trading history. Warning, it might take a long time for this process to finish and it isn't 100% reliable. When I ran it, it needed to download > 200MB worth of data for the 260 days I went back. My suggestion is to run it a few times to validate the results. You will need to run it for each wallet you use to trade on ED. Once you get the results, you can try copy/paste the table into Excel and then format the columns to match. Liqui was the biggest pain in the ass of them all. If you traded a lot on Liqui, be prepared for some pain because they have no export and only show you the history of 1 pair at a time (and only the last 30 trades!). Liqui has over 250 trading pairs so if you forgot what you traded, you will tediously have to go through each pair to check. I couldn't bear this, so I ended up coding a custom script to query all 250 trading pairs and dump out the data for me, then I had to import that into Excel and format it to match the bitcoin.tax template. Kucoin wasn't too bad. They don't have an export function, but you can copy paste the tables into Excel and massage the data there. I did a few trades with OasisDEX but when I went there it didn't have any of my history, so I had to manually cobble that together from looking at Etherscan. Luckily it was only a few trades or else this would have been very tedious. ICOs Like I mentioned, I participated in something like 20 ICOs this last year. Unfortunately I have no records of any of them. In bitcoin.tax I handled these as just another trade. In order to track down the ICOs I participated in, I was forced to use Etherscan and go through my whole transaction history looking for them. In order to add the trades manually in bitcoin.tax you need the Date, the # of ETH you spent and the # of tokens you received. It's not super difficult, but just very tedious. One that threw me for a curve ball was RedPulse. This was a NEO ICO, but adding a trade manually doesn't yet support NEO as a currency. The workaround for this is putting it into a CSV and importing it that way. In fact, if I was to do this again, I would have built a CSV for all the ICOs and just imported it that way rather than inputting them one-by-one. Airdrops I treated airdrops as "Gifts/Tips" under the income tab. I had to find these through Etherscan. Verifying the data In order to verify that all seemed right and there are no problems, there are two things that I was working toward:
No unmatched trades -- On the reports tab, you can filter by "unmatched trades". Ideally you won't have any of these. If there are some, you may need to do some more digging to see why
Closing position report -- On the reports tab, your closing position report should match as closely as possible to your current holdings in Blockfolio.
Conclusion Overall, although there was some tedious parts, this was a really good exercise. Going through my entire history gave me some great insight on how my strategies played out (ICOs were great / I suck at trading). As far as the taxes themselves, it turned out to be a lot more than I was expecting, but considering the gains I am not too sad. Going into this next year I am going to make some changes. First of all, I will probably stop trading as much. It just wasn't that successful for me and created a lot of work and taxes on top of that. Secondly, I really want to try and stay away from exchanges that don't (or don't plan to) offer history exports. Third, I will probably hold most of my unsold ICOs for at least a year so as not to be liable for short term gains. Lastly, I will keep better records as I go along so I don't have to do so much digging for next tax season. I hope this can help some of you guys figure this out and I would love to hear any additional tips from those of you who have gone through this. Edit: A couple other hiccups that I just remembered. Some tokens change their symbol, this can cause some havoc, I had done some trades in MyriadCoin as MYR then it changed to something else and it got all wacky. Updating the old token symbol to the new one seemed to do the trick. Also, to add to the Liqui woes, I had bought some BCAP way back in the day, but it got delisted so there is no way I found through the UI to get that information. The only way I found out I had actually done that trade was that the script I coded iterated through every possible trading pair and only then it was uncovered. Edit #2: I got a request for the liqui ruby script
Update: Hi /r/Bitcoin! I quit my job to start Cointaxes. Here to answer questions about taxes and digital currencies! I published a YouTube series on top questions, launched crypto tax tools and would love your input on ANY other topics or questions! :)
Hi /Bitcoin! Thank you for reading! In the last two months since I posted here, my team and I have been hard at work trying to make everyone's lives a bit easier for cryptocurrency and tax. In fact, we will be able to launch some tools this summer that will help optimize your trades from a tax perspective - as you make them. We think there's a chance we could even make it tax advantageous to use crypto vs. fiat... more on that later. For now, we would love to get your feedback on what we're working on.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments (I'll probably respond to every comment here!)
Watch a Cointaxes' YouTube Series answering the top questions How are cryptocurrencies taxed? Why should you pay this year? Am I taxed when I convert into fiat or pull money out of my exchanges? What about mining and airdrops? All this and more is covered! We launched a tool to help measure your FINCEN requirements for FBAR & FATCA
Cointaxes was formed and funded with the mission to establish confidence and certainty around cryptocurrency. We have a base tax preparation tool with support for Coinbase, GDAX, Binance, Bittrex, Poloniex, and Kraken. We made Cointaxes so you can estimate your tax liability and whether or not you have FINCEN obligations for free on our site. Your detailed reports or Form 8949 for tax filing is behind a modest paywall compared to what we've seen other tools out there charging. We see global adoption of digital currencies as an inevitability. The uncertainty lies in how effectively and smoothly this once-in-a-lifetime shift occurs. As a tax preparation service, we have a special seat in the cryptocurrency ecosystem directly related to this uncertainty: it is our job to help both citizens and governments around the world understand how to use and treat digital currencies.
We will regularly invite regulators, lawyers and tax experts to private discussions and public webinars to ensure you will have a firm understanding with each regulatory shift as the world adopts cryptocurrencies.
We will conduct proprietary research and publish Cointaxes Guides to answer questions you may have about using your digital currency.
If you want to stay on top of regulatory and tax related crypto news (as well as when we roll out shiny new tools) then consider subscribing to our newsletter. If you signed up for our newsletter two months ago - sorry for the lack of content! We've been too focused on trying to get this product up and running in time for the deadline (barely made it!) We recently expanded our team and will be able to be much more consistent about the content we're creating! Important Disclaimers: For this post and any of my replies to your questions below... this is not tax advice and should not be relied upon for making any tax decisions. We always recommend speaking to a tax professional before making decisions related to your taxes and our guides are not a substitute for tax advice.
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