Accepting virtual currency as payment

As virtual currency gains acceptance, more people are paying for services and accepting payment in this form. The IRS has compiled the following frequently asked questions about accepting payment for services or salary in virtual currency.

Q: Do I have income if I provide someone with a service and that person pays me with virtual currency?

 A: Yes.  When you receive property, including virtual currency, in exchange for performing services, whether or not you perform the services as an employee, you recognize ordinary income. 

Q: Does virtual currency received by an independent contractor for performing services constitute self-employment income?

A: Yes.  Generally, self-employment income includes all gross income derived by an individual from any trade or business carried on by the individual as other than an employee.  Consequently, the fair market value of virtual currency received for services performed as an independent contractor, measured in U.S. dollars as of the date of receipt, constitutes self-employment income and is subject to the self-employment tax.

Q: Does virtual currency paid by an employer as remuneration for services constitute wages for employment tax purposes?

A: Yes.  Generally, the medium in which remuneration for services is paid is immaterial to the determination of whether the remuneration constitutes wages for employment tax purposes.  Consequently, the fair market value of virtual currency paid as wages, measured in U.S. dollars at the date of receipt, is subject to Federal income tax withholding, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax and must be reported on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. 

Q: How do I calculate my income if I provide a service and receive payment in virtual currency?

A: The amount of income you must recognize is the fair market value of the virtual currency, in U.S. dollars, when received.  In an on-chain transaction you receive the virtual currency on the date and at the time the transaction is recorded on the distributed ledger.

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