The advent of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies has introduced unprecedented ways to distribute new assets, creating complex tax situations. Here’s how to account for forks and airdrops, and a few strategies to minimize taxes.
There is little precedent when it comes to taxes around forks and airdrops.
“In the traditional world, nobody airdrops anything. The dollar doesn’t fork every Tuesday,” said Alon Muroch, CEO of crypto accounting platform Blox, in an interview with Crypto Briefing.
Ruling from other regulatory agencies adds to the complexity. By the letter of the law, many cryptocurrencies are not considered money, or commodities, but instead securities—investments that represent a contract between a buyer and an enterprise.
“You should start with the assumption that you’re starting with a securities offering,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. Failing this assumption, or misinterpreting the rule of tax law, has led to “a majority of companies filing incorrectly,” LukkaTax’s co-CEO, Robert Materazzi, told Crypto Briefing, who claims that most portfolio apps that link to a tax service are doing so incorrectly.
FinCEN has issued its own guidelines around money transmitter rules for cryptocurrency, treating crypto like cash for anti-money laundering purposes. Meanwhile, the Commodities Future Trading Commission treats Bitcoin as a commodity. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service treats it as property. Ethereum falls somewhere in the middle.
Between the regulators, it’s one confusing mess of three and four-letter acronyms giving mixed messages.
What Is a Blockchain Fork?
A fork is a software change that creates two separate versions of the same blockchain. Most often, forks are used to introduce upgrades, where the old version of a blockchain is replaced by the new one as soon as the fork is executed.
Occasionally, however, forks are used to settle disagreements over technical features, like the block size debate that lead to Bitcoin…