The rapid rise of Bitcoin and other “cryptoassets” offers many interesting technological capabilities but also comes with uncertainty and volatility in the markets for these assets. The diversity of types of cryptoassets is increasing rapidly, while public understanding and government policy have generally been slow to take account of this diversity. In regard to taxation policy related to cryptoassets, current IRS guidance merely categorizes cryptoassets as general property. The policy implications of this classification run contrary to fundamental goals of tax policy by inhibiting how people use cryptoassets, making compliance more complex and ambiguous than necessary, and taxing cryptoasset transactions differently than analogous currency transactions and like kind exchanges in addition to contradicting broader domestic and foreign policy goals. A more optimal tax policy would include (1) a general currency classification for cryptoassets; (2) a de minimis exemption for use of cryptoassets as a medium of exchange; and (3) an additional non-recognition exemption for gains realized on all transactions involving only cryptoassets, such as like kind exchanges. This proposed model would greatly improve the efficiency, equity, and administrability of taxation related to cryptoassets in addition to better serving public policy in other areas.
Recommended CitationArild B. Doerge, TAX POLICY FOR THE WIDER CRYPTOVERSE, 21 Tenn. J. Bus. L. 39 (2020) ,