ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) have skyrocketed in the past few years. A lot of attention has been given to regulatory matters than the potential tax issues that may soon arise for both investors as well as issuers. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) didn’t issue any guidance related to the tax treatment of token issuances. Taxpayers are mostly left to apply existing-tax-rules, depending on regulations and models that offer flawed analogies to token issuances.
Cryptocurrency and Taxes
Overall, the facts of a certain token issuance, which includes the rights related to tokens must be scrutinized to regulate the proper characterization of the tokens for tax-related matters. A token has to be considered as an equity interest in the issuing entity, however, the tax consequences to the holders and issuers will rely on the buckets that token falls into.
The rules can be way too much complex if the equity interest is in a partnership, and if the taxable income partnership will surge over to the investors, so they may have a constant tax liability. Furthermore, if an investor uses “appreciated cryptocurrency” to get the tokens, it will end up in current-tax to the investor on the appreciated cryptocurrency, however, considering other facts, the investor may have the ability to claim that the cryptocurrency exchange for tokens was “tax-deferred.”
There are few token issuers that issue some of their tokens for free through an “airdrop.” Receivers usually sign up for airdropped-tokens through the website of the issuer, and sometimes they have to use social media platforms to disseminate information about tokens in order to receive them. For the receiver, the value of tokens that he/she receives in an airdrop is a taxable income.
Token issuers usually pre-sell some tokens via SAFT or SAFE-T. The holder, under a SAFT usually pays a fixed-amount for getting the right to collect a determinable number of tokens. SAFT often provide that the envisioned SAFT’s tax treatment is as a “forward contract.” If this treatment is appreciated, then the tax on the purchase amount must be delayed ’til the tokens get delivered to the SAFT holder.
Though, SAFT as a forward contract won’t necessarily be appreciated by the Internal Revenue Service, as the agency may pursue to re-characterize SAFT to extricate it from a traditional prepaid “forward contract.”
Based on SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity), SAFE-T is planned to be considered as an equity instead of alterable debt. SAFE-T’s tax treatment is ambiguous; however, it comprises the elements of both SAFE and SAFT.
It’s quite clear from that there’s only a little guidance from the IRS about how token offering is treated for tax purposes. Determining how to describe these tools for tax-purposes is an exhaustive procedure. Issuers must look up for a tax adviser to get some help in organizing their token offerings.