Virtual Currency Treated as Property for Tax Purposes

Many retailers and online businesses now accept virtual currency for sales transactions but the federal tax implications remain relatively unknown to many retailers. If you’re a retailer who accepts virtual currency such as Bitcoins for transactions, here’s what you need to know.

Sometimes, virtual currency such as Bitcoins operate like “real” currency, i.e. the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that is designated as legal tender, circulates, and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance.

But bitcoins do not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. If you’ve been paid in virtual currency, you should be aware that virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes. In other words, general tax principles that apply to property transactions also apply to transactions using virtual currency. Among other things, this means that:

  • Wages paid to employees using virtual currency are taxable to the employee, must be reported by an employer on a Form W-2, and are subject to federal income tax withholding and payroll taxes.
  • Payments using virtual currency made to independent contractors and other service providers are taxable, and self-employment tax rules generally apply. Normally, payers must issue Form 1099.
  • The character of gain or loss from the sale or exchange of virtual currency depends on whether the virtual currency is a capital asset in the hands of the taxpayer.
  • A payment made using virtual currency is subject to information reporting to the same extent as any other payment made in property.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our August 2017 newsletter here.

Understanding the Gift Tax

If you gave money or property to someone as a gift, you may wonder about the federal gift tax. Many gifts are not subject to the gift tax. Here are seven tax tips about gifts and the gift tax.

1. Nontaxable Gifts. The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following are not taxable gifts:

  • Gifts that do not exceed the annual exclusion for the calendar year,
  • Tuition or medical expenses you paid directly to a medical or educational institution for someone,
  • Gifts to your spouse (for federal tax purposes, the term “spouse” includes individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married),
  • Gifts to a political organization for its use, and
  • Gifts to charities.

Continue reading

Keep Track of Miscellaneous Deductions

Miscellaneous deductions such as certain work-related expenses you paid for as an employee can reduce your tax bill, but you must itemize deductions when you file to claim these costs. If you usually claim the standard deduction, think about itemizing instead because you might be able to pay less tax. Here are some tax tips that may help you reduce your taxes:

Deductions Subject to the Limit. You can deduct most miscellaneous costs only if their sum is more than two percent of your adjusted gross income. These include expenses such as,

  • Unreimbursed employee expenses.
  • Job search costs for a new job in the same line of work.
  • Some work clothes and uniforms.
  • Tools for your job.
  • Union dues.
  • Work-related travel and transportation.
  • The cost you paid to prepare your tax return. These fees include the cost you paid for tax preparation software. They also include any fee you paid for e-filing of your return.

Deductions Not Subject to the Limit. Some deductions are not subject to the two percent limit. They include:

  • Certain casualty and theft losses. In most cases, this rule applies to damaged or stolen property you held for investment. This may include personal property such as works of art, stocks, and bonds.
  • Gambling losses up to the total of your gambling winnings.
  • Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.

You claim allowable miscellaneous deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, but keep in mind, however, that there are many expenses that you cannot deduct. For example, you can’t deduct personal living or family expenses.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our August 2017 newsletter here.

Working with Checks in QuickBooks

“I don’t write checks anymore.” You hear a lot of people say that these days, and for many consumers, debit cards, smartphone payment apps, and online banking have all replaced the old paper checkbook.

That’s fine if you’re at Starbucks or the grocery store, but many small businesses still prefer to issue paper checks to pay bills, cover expenses, and make product and service purchases. QuickBooks provides tools that help you create, print, and track checks.

But you don’t just head to the Write Checks window every time something needs to be paid. There are numerous times when you would record a payment in a different area of the program. For example, if you’ve already created a bill in Enter Bills, you’d go to the Pay Bills screen to dispatch a check.


Figure 1: Once you’ve recorded a bill in Enter Bills, you need to visit the Pay Bills screen to dispatch a check. The image above shows the bottom of that screen.
Continue reading

Hobby or Business? Why It Matters

Millions of Americans have hobbies such as sewing, woodworking, fishing, gardening, stamp and coin collecting, but when that hobby starts to turn a profit, it might just be considered a business by the IRS.

Definition of a Hobby vs. a Business

The IRS defines a hobby as an activity that is not pursued for profit. A business, on the other hand, is an activity that is carried out with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.

The tax considerations are different for each activity, so it’s important for taxpayers to determine whether an activity is engaged in for profit as a business or is just a hobby for personal enjoyment.

Of course, you must report and pay tax on income from almost all sources, including hobbies. But when it comes to deductions such as expenses and losses, the two activities differ in their tax implications. Continue reading

Minimizing Tax on Mutual Fund Activities

Tax law generally treats mutual fund shareholders as if they directly owned a proportionate share of the fund’s portfolio of securities and you must report as income any mutual fund distributions, whether or not they are reinvested. Thus, all dividends and interest from securities in the portfolio, as well as any capital gains from the sales of securities, are taxed to the shareholders.

Whether you’re new to mutual funds or a seasoned investor who wants to learn more, these tips will help you avoid the tax bite on mutual fund investments. Continue reading

Tax Implications of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and Lending Club have become increasingly popular for both individual fundraising and small business owners looking for start-up capital or funding for creative ventures. The upside is that it’s often possible to raise the cash you need, but the downside is that the IRS might consider that money taxable income. Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading