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It is the season of giving, but what happens if you are gifted or make a charitable donation in virtual currency? The IRS has prepared several frequently asked questions to help taxpayers understand gifts and charitable contributions in virtual currencies.
No. If you receive virtual currency as a bona fide gift, you will not recognize income until you sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of that virtual currency.
Your basis in virtual currency received as a bona fide gift differs depending on whether you will have a gain or a loss when you sell or dispose of it. For purposes of determining whether you have a gain, your basis is equal to the donor’s basis, plus any gift tax the donor paid on the gift. For purposes of determining whether you have a loss, your basis is equal to the lesser of the donor’s basis or the fair market value of the virtual currency at the time you received the gift. If you do not have any documentation to substantiate the donor’s basis, then your basis is zero.
Your holding period in virtual currency received as a gift includes the time that the virtual currency was held by the person from whom you received the gift. However, if you do not have documentation substantiating that person’s holding period, then your holding period begins the day after you receive the gift.
If you donate virtual currency to a charitable organization described in Internal Revenue Code Section 170(c), you will not recognize income, gain, or loss from the donation.
Your charitable contribution deduction is generally equal to the fair market value of the virtual currency at the time of the donation if you have held the virtual currency for more than one year. If you have held the virtual currency for one year or less at the time of the donation, your deduction is the lesser of your basis in the virtual currency or the virtual currency’s fair market value at the time of the contribution.
A charitable organization can assist a donor by providing the contemporaneous written acknowledgment that the donor must obtain if claiming a deduction of $250 or more for the virtual currency donation.
A charitable organization is generally required to sign the donor’s Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, acknowledging receipt of charitable deduction property if the donor is claiming a deduction of more than $5,000 and if the donor presents the Form 8283 to the organization for signature to substantiate the tax deduction. The signature of the donee on Form 8283 does not represent concurrence in the appraised value of the contributed property. The signature represents acknowledgement of receipt of the property described in Form 8283 on the date specified and that the donee understands the information reporting requirements imposed by section 6050L on dispositions of the donated property.