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Are You Trading in Cryptocurrency

The Internal Revenue Service issued a reminder Friday to taxpayers that they need to report any income from gains they get from virtual currency transactions on their tax returns.

The move comes after the IRS forced one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, Coinbase, to send information on 13,000 of its users to the IRS last month after a legal battle involving the use of “John Doe” summonses.  That mean if you have engaged in transactions involving Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies, you are expected to report those gains to the IRS.

The IRS pointed out that virtual currency transactions are taxable by law, similar to transactions involving other personal property.  The IRS issued guidance in 2014 in Notice 2014-21 spelling out the agency’s position on digital currency transactions for taxpayers and tax preparers.

The IRS warned Friday that taxpayers who do not properly report the income tax consequences of their cryptocurrency transactions fact the possibility of tax audits, and could even be liable for penalty and interest charges when appropriate.

Under Notice 2014-21, virtual currency is treated as property for federal tax purposes, so the general principles that apply to property transactions also apply to the 1,500 or so known varieties of cryptocurrency.  That means reporting payments made with virtual currency.

Payments made to independent contractors and other service providers are also taxable and self-employment tax rules apply. Have you been trading in cryptocurrency?

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Getting a Copy a Return from the Internal Revenue Service

An individual can get a copy of their tax return from the Internal Revenue Service.  The Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) contains procedures for obtaining that transcript.  An individual master file is used to record transaction and financial entries for individual tax returns. Its counterpart is the business master file for business returns.

The IRS maintains a transcript of account for each filed tax return.  A transcript shows most entries on a tax return.  It includes data on an amended return, payments, penalties, and other processing activities.

A transcript of a taxpayer’s return may be obtained at the IRS website by first registering at “Get Transcript Online” and then ordering the document for the appropriate taxpayer.  If a person does not want to get an online transcript, a call may be made to 800-908-9946 to request one be mailed.  As a CPA, I can call a Practitioner Hotline on your behalf if I have a signed Power of Attorney to act for you.

As your CPA, I can request a transcript for you to find what information was reported on a prior-year return.  We can do this to respond to an IRS notice you have received or check the status of an amended return or refund. Our office has a list of common IRS transaction codes to determine what information we have been given on your return.  Please call our office if you have questions.

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How To Avoid Tax Traps with Inherited IRAs

An  inherited Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be a tremendous boon to the beneficiary.  Who can’t use extra money in retirement!  Most inherited IRAs are cashed out within six months of the death of the family member.  If you do cash it out, there is no way for planning tax strategies! Without proper planning, federal and state taxes can take a sizable bite from the proceeds!

Options for Inherited IRAs:

  •  Take a lump sum distribution of the entire balance
  •   Roll the inherited IRA over into a new account and take the distributions over the longer of the life expectancy of the beneficiary or the decedent.

If the account owner died before reaching the date for RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions), the beneficiary has a third option of withdrawing all the funds by the end of the year containing the fifth anniversary of the decedent’s death (The Five Year Rule). In this case, the life expectancy of the beneficiary must be used.

Keep the Beneficiary Designation Up To Date!

Marriage, divorce and the birth of children can change estate plans.  The IRA will pass by beneficiary designation and not the Will.  Please make sure you keep the beneficiary as you want it.

Titling An Inherited IRA:

An inherited IRA must be titled with both the name of the decedent and the beneficiary plus the word “inherited”. For example, one might title an inherited IRA as “Jane Doe, deceased September 30, 2017, F/B/O Jimmy Doe, beneficiary”.  If you just change the name on the IRA, that is a “cash out” so DO NOT just retitle the inherited IRA to the beneficiary. Retitling the account is best done at the brokerage where the decedent held the IRA before the beneficiary rolls it over to his or her own brokerage.

If Decedent Had Turned 70 1/2 Years of Age and Started RMDs:

If the decedent had already turned age 70 1/2 and started taking required minimum distributions, the beneficiary MUST take the required minimum distribution before the end of that year or there is a 50% penalty and you still must take the distribution.

ROTH?

Consider the beneficiary’s age and if there are already ample retirement sources, converting the inherited IRA to a ROTH may be the way to go.

Please call our office BEFORE just cashing out the inherited IRA!

 

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