President Donald Trump’s new economic adviser has his sights set on lowering the capital gains tax rate, a move that would prove to be a huge boon to cryptocurrency investors.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that he had tapped Larry Kudlow to become the new White House economic adviser, filling a post left vacant by outgoing adviser Gary Cohn.
Kudlow, a former Bear Stearns economist and CNBC contributor, said during a lengthy interview with his former network that he wants to implement “phase two” of the White House’s tax overhaul, a reform package that he says should include a lower capital gains rate.
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A lower capital gains rate would likely be welcomed by cryptocurrency investors and traders because the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies cryptocurrencies as “property” for tax purposes.
Whenever a US resident disposes of his or her cryptocurrency holdings — whether by selling it or using it to purchase the proverbial cup of coffee — he or she is supposed to make a record of the transaction and report to the IRS any gains or losses realized at the time of disposal.
Net profits are taxed as capital gains, rates for which vary both on the income level of the individual as well as how long he or she held the investment.
Short-term gains — which include investments held for less than a year — are taxed at the same rate as the filer’s ordinary income, while long-term investments receive a more favorable tax treatment.
The highest rate for long-term capital gains is 20 percent, which applies to filers who fall into the top 39.6 percent tax bracket for ordinary income. Certain high-income individuals may also be subject to a 3.8 percent surtax.
Previously, trading between cryptocurrencies was likely not a taxable event, since it was considered a “like-kind” exchange (The IRS has not given definitive guidance on this, but this is the position that many tax analysts have taken).
However, due to a provision in last year’s tax overhaul, these like-kind exchanges trigger taxable events for all transactions that occur after Jan. 1, 2018.
This could prove hazardous for many cryptocurrency traders, particularly those that deal in high-volatility small cap coins. An investor or trader could realize a taxable event when exchanging Bitcoin for an altcoin, for example, and he would still face that tax liability even if the altcoin stake later becomes worthless.
Lowering the capital gains rate would mitigate that risk — at least somewhat — and it would also provide long-term hodlers with the ability to take money off the table without having to put quite so much of it in Uncle Sam’s coffer.
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