IRS Requests Comment on Bitcoin Taxation

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Notice 2014-21


This notice describes how existing general tax principles apply to transactions using virtual currency.  The notice provides this guidance in the form of answers to frequently asked questions.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is aware that “virtual currency” may be used to pay for goods or services, or held for investment.  Virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value.  In some environments, it operates 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 it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.

Virtual currency that has an equivalent value in real currency, or that acts as a substitute for real currency, is referred to as “convertible” virtual currency.  Bitcoin is one example of a convertible virtual currency.  Bitcoin can be digitally traded between users and can be purchased for, or exchanged into, U.S. dollars, Euros, and other real or virtual currencies.  For a more comprehensive description of convertible virtual currencies to date, see Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Guidance on the Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies (FIN-2013-G001, March 18, 2013).


In general, the sale or exchange of convertible virtual currency, or the use of convertible virtual currency to pay for goods or services in a real-world economy transaction, has tax consequences that may result in a tax liability.  This notice addresses only the U.S. federal tax consequences of transactions in, or transactions that use, convertible virtual currency, and the term “virtual currency” as used in Section 4 refers only to convertible virtual currency.  No inference should be drawn with respect to virtual currencies not described in this notice.

The Treasury Department and the IRS recognize that there may be other questions regarding the tax consequences of virtual currency not addressed in this notice that warrant consideration.  Therefore, the Treasury Department and the IRS request comments from the public regarding other types or aspects of virtual currency transactions that should be addressed in future guidance.

Comments should be addressed to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn:  CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2014-21)

Room 5203

P.O. Box 7604

Ben Franklin Station

Washington, D.C. 20044

or hand delivered Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. to:

Courier’s Desk

Internal Revenue Service

Attn:  CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2014-21)

1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20224

Alternatively, taxpayers may submit comments electronically via e-mail to the following address:  Taxpayers should include “Notice 2014-21” in the subject line.  All comments submitted by the public will be available for public inspection and copying in their entirety.

For purposes of the FAQs in this notice, the taxpayer’s functional currency is assumed to be the U.S. dollar, the taxpayer is assumed to use the cash receipts and disbursements method of accounting and the taxpayer is assumed not to be under common control with any other party to a transaction.


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