Crypto is Big Now. How Do You Pay Your Taxes? 0 148

There are 2070 kinds of tokens in circulation, with a total market cap of $209.5 billion. Bitcoin tokens alone account for $112.4 billion of that.

And while it’s been a bearish year for Bitcoin, a recent survey of fintech leaders anticipates its value to rise 220 percent by the end of 2019. Research by Stasis also supports a promising future for cryptos, projecting a trade volume growth of 50 percent through next year.

Cryptos are more popular than ever. A survey of the intersection between crypto enthusiasts and reddit users found first timers have tended to adopt crypto in step with valuation booms. “The peaks unsurprisingly follow the growth of the cryptocurrency market,” the results read, “with the two biggest years being 2013 and 2017 by a significant margin. Within 2017 the same trend shows, with most people entering crypto May through to August which coincided with the end of Ethereum’s big bull run up to $400 and Bitcoin’s run up to $5000.”

Those surveyed, overwhelmingly college educated males with a median age between 26 and 30, are confident in their knowledge about blockchain and tend towards crypto evangelism. About 40 percent said they check the price of their coins over ten times per day, with 94 percent checking at least once daily.

All This Interest in Crypto Has Alerted the Old Guard

With crypto values rising, and public interest along with it, the federal government has lumbered to life and started investigating cryptospace to the best of their ability. Which apparently means paying others to do it for them. Paying a lot. According to research by Diar, public records show US government agencies like the FBI, ICE, the SEC, and of course the IRS, have cumulatively spent $5.7 million hiring blockchain analysis companies. Two thirds of that spending has been in the last year, since Bitcoin’s big surge.

Perhaps all that analysis will help the IRS to finally clarify how they intend to tax cryptocurrencies. As of now, the only information they’ve released is a brief notice from 2014 mumbling to the public that the IRS is “aware” of “virtual currency,” and they consider it “property.” It’s very little to go on, but their silence and their heavy spending on analysis suggests they’re trying to catch up.

Investors Are Wondering How to Fulfill Their Tax Obligations

Meanwhile, we’re in the fourth quarter of crypto’s most popular year yet, and investors are looking back at the fiscal year wondering what they can do to stay in good standing. But bookkeeping gets complicated with crypto, because transaction data isn’t standardized.

With thousands of cryptos being traded across many different exchanges and every exchange reporting differently, not to mention wallet-to-wallet transactions that don’t involve an exchange, there’s no consistency in how to keep crypto books. If there were industry standards for recording and reporting transactions, that would be another story. But crypto is still young, and let’s be honest, nobody really knows what they’re doing.

So squaring up with tax responsibilities is no simple task. In fact, it’s a bit of a mystery at this point.

Who’s Solving the Problem?

While the fed scratches its noggin, champions of the private sector are stepping in to deliver solutions for companies and investors who need crypto bookkeeping. Libra is one that offers real time blockchain auditing tools “to automate and optimize middle and back office processes and reporting, while improving operational and financial analysis and control.”

Another SaaS to look into, one that’s optimized for the single investor while still useful to a company or a fund, is Profitstance. Their tools are designed to keep you up to speed on the tax consequences of every crypto transaction, again in real time. They say they guarantee the 100 percent accuracy of their calculations, and they’ll pay your IRS fines and interest if they’re wrong. With someone else taking on that much responsibility for your numbers, hopefully you can sleep (and trade) a little bit easier.

Alternatively, you can hire a team of CPAs who know crypto, like those at Camuso, and just let them handle everything for you. For the DIY types, you can use utilities like CryptoTrader.Tax to autofill your 8949 (it’s under development, but you can sign up to get the latest release when it’s ready).

So don’t stress about taxes, even if you’re among the many newcomers to the ever-expanding crypto game. We’re making this up as we fly forward into it, but there are plenty of people offering support to make sure you don’t get caught in a wrestling match with the IRS.

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I grew up in the Silicon valley under the technological mentorship of Steve Wozniak. I'm a proud member of the Choctaw Nation, I've lived, worked and traveled all over the world, and I now write in the Pacific Northwest.

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Chinese Crypto Leader Li Xiaolai Suddenly Retires 0 131

One of China’s most prominent Bitcoin investors has announced his retirement from the crypto world. Billionaire Li Xiaolai is the founder of BitFund, a crypto venture capital firm that has fostered a slew of Bitcoin-related startups.

Li’s announcement of his decision to withdraw from cryptospace—and investing otherwise—came unexpectedly via his page on Chinese social media site Weibo.

“From this day on,” his post reads, according to TechNode’s translation, “I, Li Xiaolai, will personally not invest in any projects (whether it is blockchain or early stage). So, if you see ‘Li Xiaolai’ associated with any project (I have been associated with countless projects without my knowledge, 99% is not an exaggeration), just ignore it.”

Li is a former school teacher, and claims to be the first person in China to openly trade Bitcoins, rather than hiding behind its famous anonymity. Now, retired from both teaching and investing, he says he’s not sure where to go next. “I plan to spend several years to contemplate on my career change. As for what I’m doing next, I’m not sure just yet.”

Li closed his post by expressing that he still maintains a long term optimism about the blockchain.

Li’s Ventures Grew Crypto Capital, Controversey

Through BitFund, Li has incubated a number of blockchain related startups, including an off-chain wallet called Bitfoo, the crypto exchange YUNBI, and HashRatio, a miner manufacturing company. Li organized 2014’s Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, back when you could get a BTC for as little as $440, and years before China instated its full ban on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this year, Li also acted as managing partner of Hangzhou Xiong’An Blockchain Fund, a billion dollar fund backed by the Hangzhou government. Li stepped down after fellow venture capitalist Chen Weizing introduced a series of accusations against him.

Included in the eleven accusations, which Chen broke on social media and messaging platform WeChat, were a supposed debt of 30,000 BTC that Chen says Li failed to pay on time. Li published a point-by-point response to Chen’s accusations, addressing the 30,000 BTC debt by saying “it’s not true… Chen is just muddying the water.”

Though Li called them “defamations,” and Chen did not offer supporting evidence for his allegations, Li said Chen’s antics “brought material and negative impacts on the reputation of Xiong’An Blockchain Fund” and that his resignation would “let the Hangzhou government continue its push for blockchain development.”

Li was the subject of controversy on another occasion when, in a candid conversation he did not know was being recorded, he outed several influential organizations as scams and said that the best way to succeed in blockchain, even if your project is worthless, is to get famous and build consensus.

The State of Crypto in the People’s Republic

All crypto and blockchain related websites are blocked by the Chinese government, and citizens are forbidden from engaging in crypto transactions. The People’s Bank of China released a statement on August 24th warning against ICOs, which they consider to be “illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and fraud.”

But the rules have been difficult to enforce, and crypto still enjoys an active user base in China. Beijing Sci-Tech Report, China’s oldest technology publication, is now the first Chinese publication to accept BTC as payment from its subscribers. Chinese crypto channel cnLedger announced in a tweet on September 25th that Ethereum Hotel, China’s first hotel to accept ETH as payment, is open for business in Sichuan Province.

A Crypto Landscape Without a Leader

The sudden exit of Li Xiaolai from the Chinese crypto scene could have caveats, or greater implications. Weibo users expressed their support and gratitude following his announcement, but some also speculated that his choice of words leaves room for Li to continue investing in crypto indirectly, perhaps through funds or corporate entities. Whether that will be the case or not, for many, his resignation marks the loss of a public blockchain leader.

Bow To Your New God, Blockchain. Bow Down. 0 217

It’s pronounced ‘Zero Ex Omega’.

It’s the brainchild of two people who apparently have lots of time on their hands and a penchant for publicity stunts: artist Avery Singer, child of Ramona Singer, who seems to be someone on television, and Bay Area whiz kid slash former CEO of Augur Matt Liston.

Together at a conference at New York City’s New Museum, Singer and Liston unveiled 0xΩ. It’s a blockchain religion they invented.

Do we need a blockchain religion? Of course we do. Look at it this way: blockchain has always been a religion. Singer and Liston are just making it official—and, of course, decentralizing it.

Not a Critique of Capitalism, But…

“In our secular culture, we have sort of replaced religion with capitalism or, rather, this rampant consumerism,” Liston told Wired. “0xΩ isn’t a direct critique of that, but I think it’s definitely a clear point to make.”

Put that way, 0xΩ isn’t so different from the Church of the SubGenius, which satirizes everything on Earth to rough sketch a core dogma of meaninglessness and mayhem transcendable only by the attainment of ‘slack’. Or more recently, it resembles trends in chaos magick, which asserts that “nothing is true and everything is permissible.”

These anarchic belief systems (or anti-belief systems?) can be seen as responses to some of late capitalism’s gaping failures, namely the frenzied fervors of consumerism, epidemic feelings of void and alienation resulting from an absence of cultural roots, and the general collapse of institutional religion as a place to find any meaning or value.

From this climate emerges the great and terrible Dogewhal.

Yes, Dogewhal.

“We have this avatar I’ve created who is a narwhal with a doge head, a beret, tattoos, an infinity tail, an ethereum logo,” said Singer at the unveiling, while muffling laughter.

Is this a joke? Yes! Is there more to it than that? Also yes!

The rest of the crypto world takes itself so seriously, it can stand a little shake up from time to time. If nothing else, 0xΩ brings that relief. While ostensibly the meaningless antics of the clever, it could actually have some new ideas about how we approach belief systems, and some new applications of the block.

The Block X Religion

0xΩ is a custom religion, but it’s also a platform for existing religions. On 0xΩ, everyone in the religion has an equal say in which beliefs prevail, and what will be the content of sacred texts.

It’s a takedown of traditional hierarchies in which acolytes apply themselves to the instruction of a master who holds the keys to the kingdom, hierarchies which people are less and less interested in.

“We’re incentivizing mindsharing, and eventually mind upload to use consensus to form a structure of collective consciousness,” Liston said. This deliberate manufacturing of consensus reality, if it works, would make Peter J. Carroll proud.

Where Did This All Come From?

The name ‘0xΩ’ itself has gnostic overtones. The void, or the original nothingness, multiplied by the sum total of all material existence, signified by the character Ω. Nothing times everything. Whence comes the universe? From what void does it all spring? You could ask the same of Bitcoin, which spontaneously emerges from nothingness just as the universe did, or does, maybe.

Liston, who also previously worked with a decentralized prediction company called, ironically, Gnosis, says he “grew up Jewish.”

He was pushed out of his position as CEO of Augur in a series of legal battles surrounding one of the world’s first ICOs. Augur, a betting tool that rewards users for correct predictions on elections, markets, or even the weather, seems an apt place to start for someone whose business aspirations seem to revolve around the ethereal nature of belief.

Regarding his approach to blockchain, Liston says “I’m obsessed and very driven by what these technologies can do, but I’m bored with it being a space that’s dominated by engineers and finance people.”

Like What Does Religion Even Mean, Dude?

It raises questions like: Is a democratized religion even a religion? Do the people know best on matters concerning the secret laws of nature? What is the point of all this? The best answer to the latter is probably ‘well, what is the point of anything?’

Sure, 0xΩ may be dismissive of the cultural post that world religions occupy. It’s a bit like someone mouthing a bunch of gibberish and declaring they’ve just founded a language. But it disrupts the evangelical fervor of blockchain enthusiasts, and that, if nothing else, is a service to humanity.

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