Crypto and Taxable Events Explained

Crypto and Taxable Events Explained

Crypto activities such as trading, spending, and selling can be taxed in many countries. To calculate your taxes, consider your gains and losses. You might also need to pay income taxes if you receive crypto as payment. It's important to consult a tax advisor since rules differ across jurisdictions. Crypto exchanges must cooperate with tax authorities to track transactions. Failure to comply with taxes can lead to hefty penalties and severe punishments.


Crypto holders and traders are typically required to pay taxes on their crypto assets. The specific tax percentage varies by country, but it is common for tax authorities to consider crypto as capital assets. Meeting your tax obligations is a legal requirement and must be done accurately. Since regulations for taxing cryptocurrencies differ between countries, it is advisable to seek guidance from a local tax professional.

Taxes for Buying and Selling Crypto

Crypto taxes vary based on factors such as your location, holding period, and type of crypto activity. Generally, selling crypto may incur taxes or allow for loss offsets, while buying crypto usually doesn't trigger tax obligations. Crypto taxation can be complex due to evolving regulations for this emerging asset class. However, it's your responsibility to track taxable gains and losses accurately and comply with your country's tax laws.

What Is Considered a Taxable Event?

A taxable event refers to a transaction or activity that requires you to pay taxes. These events can vary from one country to another. Typically, sales of commodities, investments, and capital assets are taxable, while buying digital currencies with fiat currency is usually not taxable. However, selling or trading your crypto is likely to incur taxes.

During a taxable event, you may experience either capital gains (profit) or capital losses. If you trade an appreciating asset for a profit, you've made capital gains. On the other hand, if you trade or sell the asset at a loss, you've incurred capital losses.

The taxability of capital gains depends on your local tax authority. It is possible to deduct capital losses from your capital gains to reduce your tax liability. Your overall tax obligation is influenced by these factors. To accurately calculate your taxes, it is important to keep track of the transaction date, cost basis (purchase price), sale value, and associated fees for all trading activities.

Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Events

Taxable events in the crypto space include:

  1. Selling cryptocurrency for fiat currency, such as USD, CAD, EUR, JPY, etc.
  2. Trading one cryptocurrency for another, like exchanging BTC for ETH.
  3. Spending cryptocurrencies, which may incur taxes if you generate profits from such transactions, depending on the jurisdiction.
  4. Receiving cryptocurrency through mining, forks, or airdrops.

The following events are generally not considered taxable:

  1. Buying cryptocurrency with fiat currency, unless the purchase price is lower than the fair market value of the acquired coin.
  2. Donating cryptocurrency to a tax-exempt organization.
  3. Gifting cryptocurrency within a specific limit.
  4. Transferring cryptocurrency between wallets that you own.

It's important to note that tax regulations may vary, so consulting a tax professional is advisable to ensure compliance with local laws.

How Is Crypto Taxed?

The tax treatment of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies depends on their official classification in each country. Some countries tax crypto as a capital asset, while others have more relaxed regulations. Crypto income, such as earnings from full-time employment, freelance work, or trading, may be subject to income tax. The tax rate is typically based on your income level. There are income thresholds where no tax is owed, and higher incomes generally have higher tax rates. If you primarily earn income from crypto trading, you need to determine if you're subject to capital gains tax or income tax.

How to Calculate Your Taxes?

Calculating tax liability for crypto transactions typically involves determining capital gains or losses. The formula used is:

Fair market value - cost basis = Capital gain/loss

The fair market value refers to the current spot price on a cryptocurrency exchange. The cost basis includes the original purchase price and associated fees. Tax on capital gains depends on various factors such as total taxable income, tax-filing status, and holding period. Long-term capital gains tax rates may apply if the asset was held for over a certain period. The tax amount is determined by considering total taxable income, including capital gains. The specific tax rates vary based on tax regulations and individual circumstances.

Tax-filing status




Single (individual filing)Up to $40,400$40,401 — $445,850Over $445,850
Married (joint filing)Up to $80,800$80,801 — $501,600Over $501,600
Married (separate filing)Up to $40,400$40,401 — $250,800Over $250,800
Head of householdUp to $54,100$54,101 — $473,750Over $473,750

Consider the following trading history involving two cryptocurrencies, Crypto A and Crypto B:

  1. Purchased 1 Crypto A for $100
  2. Purchased 1 Crypto A for $200
  3. Purchased 1 Crypto B for $500
  4. Traded 1 Crypto A (valued at $300) for 0.5 Crypto B

For tax purposes, the trade between Crypto A and Crypto B is a taxable event that requires calculating capital gains or losses. You need to determine the cost basis, which is the price used to calculate gains or losses. Two common methods for this calculation are FIFO and LIFO.

Using FIFO, where the earliest purchased asset is considered first, the cost basis would be the purchase of 1 Crypto A for $100. The capital gains would then be $200:

$300 (fair market value) - $100 (cost basis) = $200 (capital gains)

Alternatively, using LIFO, where the most recent purchase is considered first, the cost basis would be the purchase of 1 Crypto A for $200. The capital gains would amount to $100:

$300 (fair market value) - $200 (cost basis) = $100 (capital gains)

To determine your tax liability, subtract any capital losses from capital gains. Depending on the jurisdiction, different rules may apply for short-term and long-term capital gains and losses. Consult with a tax professional or accountant who is knowledgeable about tax regulations in your jurisdiction for accurate reporting and compliance.

How Can Tax Authorities Become Aware of My Crypto Balance?

Tax authorities globally are increasingly monitoring cryptocurrency transactions and enforcing tax compliance. They utilize data analytics tools, such as Chainanalysis, to track cryptocurrency activity. These tools allow them to link blockchain transactions on regulated exchanges to individual crypto wallets. Additionally, governments collaborate with other agencies, academic institutions, and international entities to share information on cryptocurrency usage. Major cryptocurrency exchanges are obligated to cooperate with tax authorities, and efforts are being made to combat tax evasion and ensure proper regulation of cryptocurrency activities.

What Happens if I Don't Pay Taxes on Crypto?

Regular tax filing is a requirement in numerous countries, regardless of whether you have tax obligations or are eligible for a refund. Neglecting to file your taxes can lead to various consequences, including fees, penalties, interest charges, seized refunds, audits, and potential legal repercussions, such as imprisonment.


To ensure accurate tax calculations and timely payment, it is crucial to develop good tax management skills. We highly recommend seeking the assistance of a professional tax advisor, especially if you are involved in trading activities rather than just investing. Trading often introduces complex tax implications that require expert guidance. It's important to note that your specific tax obligations are determined by the regulations in your jurisdiction.

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