Crypto Investors Get Ready for More Taxes But Clearer Rules

Sure, you might have to actually pay U.S. taxes on those crypto trades. But at least it will be easier to figure out how much you owe.

A new push by Congress to require crypto brokers to report transactions to the Internal Revenue Service could create some unwelcome tax bills but could clarify rules for traders and users of Bitcoin and other digital tokens, potentially strengthening the system in the long run, people in the industry say.

The new rules — a last-minute addition to the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package now being considered by the U.S. Senate — would also force businesses to disclose trades of digital assets of more than $10,000. The provisions are designed to raise $28 billion.

The measures add to increased scrutiny the IRS has recently applied to traders of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital assets. The agency has promised it will issue new rules that clarify how those virtual currencies should be taxed.

People who trade digital currencies must pay income taxes on any gains, even if some crypto investors have been ignoring their tax obligations. But even for those who want to follow the law, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s owed.

Filing taxes on crypto trades can create huge headaches, especially for those who conduct multiple transactions each year. While traditional stock brokerages are already required to send detailed tax forms to clients, crypto exchanges aren’t. Even if firms wanted to help their clients file taxes, it’s not always clear how to do that under the current regulations.

In addition, tax obligations can pop up in surprising places. People who use digital currencies to pay for things — like, say, a Tesla, or a pizza — are supposed to pay taxes on any increase in value of the crypto they spend. It’s a key difference between using digital “currencies” and actual, fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar to conduct commerce.

Andrew Johnson, a project manager at a large national bank, has invested tens of thousands in crypto and uses a dedicated service to figure out what he owes in taxes. He’s been using CoinTracker, which he learned about though a YouTube channel that he trusts.

“Most would benefit from a tracking service to help with taxes,” he said. “For me, I decided it was worth the cost to not have to manually track all the trades I did — which could take hours or days.”

Read more from Bloomberg Opinion: How Can I Lower My Taxes on Bitcoin?

Cryptocurrency exchanges and others in the industry have raised concerns that the U.S. Senate is rushing the rules into effect without consulting them first.

Some wondered whether the new rules and regulatory attention would encourage mainstream investors to join the space — or hurt the appeal of cryptocurrencies by killing its anything-goes ethos.

“Some portion of crypto investors may start to have second thoughts about the tax consequences,” said Michael Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners. “It’s almost like crypto is a really fun party, but it’s getting late and a few people are starting to look at their watches as they think about the next morning.”

For years, the IRS has been warning taxpayers to report cryptocurrency transactions on their tax returns. More recently, the agency has made clear that fighting tax evasion through digital currencies is a top priority.

The IRS has started collecting vast amounts of data on blockchain transactions, has subpoenaed crypto exchanges and worked on coordinating enforcement with foreign governments. Last year, the IRS added a yes-or-no question to the front page of the 1040 income tax form asking whether filers had sold or exchanged virtual currencies.

The jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement only reaches so far, and crypto traders who prize secrecy could flee to offshore exchanges, or take other measures to avoid being spotted by the IRS. However, the U.S. has already shown it can crack down on foreign tax evasion by, for example, forcing banks in Switzerland and elsewhere to divulge details on American clients.

Even if parts of the crypto universe remain hidden, it may be difficult to move those assets onshore and turn them into legitimate wealth.

“If a U.S. taxpayer is into crypto for the ability to underreport income from sales or transfers, chances are someone in a chain somewhere may have to disclose it,” said Julio Jimenez, an attorney who is principal in the tax services group at Marks Paneth LLP.

All this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for law-abiding investors in digital assets if they end up with clearer rules and easier-to-understand annual statements from crypto firms.

“I think it will have a positive effect on the industry,” said Brett Cotler, an attorney at Seward and Kissel LLP in New York who specializes in blockchain and cryptocurrency. While exchanges and fintech firms that deal in digital currencies may have to spend money upgrading reporting and compliance systems, it will improve customer service, he said.

Johnson, the crypto trader, said he thinks the new rules will help legitimize the crypto ecosystem and foster international growth.

“While at its heart, crypto assets have been a means of moving value outside of government-controlled rails, I still understand the need for regulation in the crypto space in order for wider adoption to take place,” he said.

— With assistance by Natasha Abellard, and Laura Davison

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Source: Bitcoin (BTC): What Is Impact of Government Plan to Tax Crypto Trades? – Bloomberg

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How the New Child Tax Credit Is Helping Parent Entrepreneurs

Eligible parents are slated to receive their monthly child tax credit payments starting Thursday. How you use the money could affect your business or help you start one.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expanded the tax credit score to $3,600 per baby underneath the age of six and to $3,000 for these aged six to 17. It is in impact only for 2021, although Biden has advocated making it making it everlasting.

Half of the funds might be despatched to folks in installments via December. For instance, a mum or dad with one baby underneath six would obtain $300 per 30 days. Dad and mom can declare the remainder upon submitting taxes for 2021–unless they choose out to allow them to obtain all the cash once they file.

Madilynn A. Beck, founder and CEO of Palm Springs, California-based Fountful–an app that gives “life-style providers” like manicures or DJ appearances on demand–is contemplating that strategy. Beck says that if she meets her enterprise targets this 12 months, Fountful might generate sufficient income to considerably enhance her tax burden come subsequent April. “I am protecting my head above water now,” she says. “What occurs if I’m absolutely underwater then and do not have a life vest?”

The kid tax credit score will have an effect on individuals at a “wide selection” of earnings ranges, says Daniel Milan, managing accomplice at Cornerstone Monetary Providers primarily based in Southfield, Michigan. For aspiring entrepreneurs, it’d offset childcare prices for just a few months whereas they work on getting a enterprise off the bottom. For others, the cash might simply assist alleviate day by day monetary stress.

That is the case for Ruby Taylor, CEO and founding father of Baltimore-based Monetary Pleasure Faculty, which supplies monetary literacy training and produces a card sport that teaches the topic to younger individuals. In April 2021, she and her spouse’s monetary scenario modified consequently of the pandemic however they nonetheless needed to cowl issues like a brand new roof and fence for his or her home.

Their financial savings account dwindled, and Taylor’s nervousness spiked, leading to her occurring blood stress and nervousness treatment. The additional $500 the mom of two expects to obtain means the couple can construct up their security web once more, taking the stress off each of them. “When she’s not pressured, I am not pressured,” Taylor says. It “will assist the enterprise not directly, as a result of I may be extra productive.”

Guardian entrepreneurs face the extra problem of staying current with spouses and kids, says James Oliver Jr., founder and CEO of ParentPreneur Basis, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps Black mum or dad founders financially and with an internet neighborhood (of which Beck and Taylor are each members).

 Month-to-month funds “may very well be the distinction of sending the youngsters to summer season camp, shopping for further groceries, taking a bit trip, or taking the youngsters to the amusement park as soon as a month to assist the household bond,” he says.

Source: How the New Child Tax Credit Is Helping Parent Entrepreneurs | Inc.com

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Critics:

The Internal Revenue Service today launched two new online tools designed to help families manage and monitor the advance monthly payments of Child Tax Credits under the American Rescue Plan. These two new tools are in addition to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, announced last week, which helps families not normally required to file an income tax return to quickly register for the Child Tax Credit. The new Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant allows families to answer a series of questions to quickly determine whether they qualify for the advance credit.

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for the payments and if they choose to, unenroll, or opt out from receiving the monthly payments so they can receive a lump sum when they file their tax return next year. This secure, password-protected tool is available to any eligible family with internet access and a smart phone or computer. Future versions of the tool planned in the summer and fall will allow people to view their payment history, adjust bank account information or mailing addresses and other features. A Spanish version is also planned.

The IRS Has 35 Million Tax Returns In Backlog. Here’s How To Track Your Money

The IRS is facing numerous challenges that have caused setbacks in issuing tax refunds this year. A recent National Taxpayer Advocate report confirmed that some 35 million tax returns are yet to be processed and explained the long delays. The tax agency is tasked with more than usual this time of year. Many 2020 tax returns are requiring adjustments or corrections, disbursing stimulus checks, calculating other tax credits and refunding overpayment on 2020 unemployment compensation.

And then there’s the unprecedented situation brought on by the pandemic. The IRS is taking more than the standard 21 days to send refunds — some taxpayers are waiting months. It’s hard to get live assistance by phone, as many callers wait on hold or aren’t connected due to high call volumes. So what if you need your tax money to cover debt or household expenses? How can you check the status of your money without calling the IRS?

We’ll walk you through how to see your personalized refund status online through IRS tracking tools and what to do if you’re waiting for a tax refund on unemployment benefits, as well. For more on economic relief aid, here are some ways to know if you qualify for the child tax credit payments that start next week. If you’re curious about future stimulus payments or the latest infrastructure deal, we can tell you about that, too. This story has been recently updated.

Why is there a tax refund delay this year?

Because of the pandemic, the IRS ran at restricted capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and created a massive backlog. The combination of the shutdown, three rounds of stimulus payments, challenges with paper-filed returns and the tasks related to implementing new tax laws and credits caused a “perfect storm,” according to a National Taxpayer Advocate review of the 2021 filing season to Congress.

The IRS is open again and currently processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, but limited resources continue to cause delays. Earlier in the tax season, some refunds were already taking longer than 21 days, including those that required manual processing. The IRS said it’s also taking more time for 2020 tax returns that need review, such as determining recovery rebate credit amounts for the first and second stimulus checks — or figuring earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.

Here’s a list of reasons your refund might be delayed:

  • Your tax return has errors.
  • It’s incomplete.
  • Your refund is suspected of identity theft or fraud.
  • You filed for the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit.
  • Your return needs further review.
  • Your return includes Form 8379 (PDF), injured spouse allocation — this could take up to 14 weeks to process.

If the delay is due to a necessary tax correction made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax or additional child tax credit claimed on your return, the IRS will send you an explanation. If there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. However, if it needs any more information, it will write you a letter.

How can you track the status of your refund online?

To check the status of your income tax refund using the IRS tracker tools, you’ll need to give some information: your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status — single, married or head of household — and your refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return. Also, make sure it’s been at least 24 hours (or up to four weeks if you mailed your return) before you start tracking your refund.

Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, go to the Get Refund Status page, enter your SSN or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount, then press Submit. If you entered your information correctly, you’ll be taken to a page that shows your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax data and try again. If all the information looks correct, you’ll need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.

The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that checks your tax refund status. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, check back the following day. Once your return and refund are approved, you’ll receive a personalized date to expect your money.

Where’s My Refund has information on the most recent tax refund that the IRS has on file within the past two years, so if you’re looking for return information from previous years you’ll need to contact the IRS for further help.

How can you check the status of unemployment tax refunds online?

Taxpayers who collected unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed their tax returns early have started to receive additional tax refunds from the IRS. Under new rules from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, millions of people who treated their unemployment compensation as income are eligible for a tax break and could get a hefty sum of money back.

However, it’s not easy to track the status of that refund using the online tools above. To find out when the IRS processed your refund and for how much, we recommend locating your tax transcript by logging in to your account and viewing the transactions listed there. We explain how to do that step-by-step.

What is the wait time for a standard tax refund?

The IRS usually issues tax refunds within three weeks, but some taxpayers have been waiting months to receive their payments. If there are any errors, or if you filed a claim for an earned income tax credit or the child tax credit, the wait could be pretty lengthy. If there is an issue holding up your return, the resolution “depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return,” according to its website.

The date you get your tax refund also depends on how you filed your return. For example, with refunds going into your bank account via direct deposit, it could take an additional five days for your bank to post the money to your account. This means if it took the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you could be waiting a total of 26 days to get your money. If you submitted your tax return by mail, the IRS says it could take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive.

What do the IRS tax refund status messages mean?

Both IRS tools (online and mobile app) will show you one of three messages to explain your tax return status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is working to process it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you’re owed one.
  • Sent: Your refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check sent to your mailbox. (Here’s how to change the address on file if you moved.)

What does an IRS TREAS 310 deposit mean?

If you receive your tax refund by direct deposit, you may see IRS TREAS 310 for the transaction. The 310 identifies the transaction as an IRS tax refund. This would also apply to the case of those receiving an automatic adjustment on their tax return or a refund due to new legislation on tax-free unemployment benefits. You may also see TAX REF in the description field for a refund.

If you see a 449 instead, it means your refund has been offset for delinquent debt.

What is the IRS phone number to check on a tax refund?

The IRS received 167 million calls this tax season, which is four times the number of calls in 2019. And based on the recent report, only seven percent of calls reached a telephone agent for help. While you could try calling the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is extremely limited right now because the IRS says it’s working hard to get through the backlog. You shouldn’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.

Even though the chances of getting live assistance are slim, the IRS says you should only call if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS. Here’s the number to call: 800-829-1040.

Why will a refund come by mail instead of direct deposit?

There are a couple of reasons that your refund would be mailed to you. Your money can only be electronically deposited into a bank account with your name, your spouse’s name or a joint account. If that’s not the reason, you may be getting multiple refund checks, and the IRS can only direct deposit up to three refunds to one account. Additional refunds must be mailed. Lastly, your bank may reject the deposit and this would be the IRS’ next best way to refund your money quickly.

For more information about your 2020 taxes, here’s the latest on federal unemployment benefits on your taxes and everything to know about the third stimulus check.

Katie Teague headshot

 

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Source: The IRS has 35 million tax returns in backlog. Here’s how to track your money – CNET

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Critics:

Tax returns in the United States are reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or with the state or local tax collection agency (California Franchise Tax Board, for example) containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes. Tax returns are generally prepared using forms prescribed by the IRS or other applicable taxing authority.

Under the Internal Revenue Code returns can be classified as either tax returns or information returns, although the term “tax return” is sometimes used to describe both kinds of returns in a broad sense. Tax returns, in the more narrow sense, are reports of tax liabilities and payments, often including financial information used to compute the tax. A very common federal tax form is IRS Form 1040.

A tax return provides information so that the taxation authority can check on the taxpayer’s calculations, or can determine the amount of tax owed if the taxpayer is not required to calculate that amount. In contrast, an information return is a declaration by some person, such as a third party, providing economic information about one or more potential taxpayers.

References:

Rich Americans Hunt for Ways Around Tax Hikes They Were Warned About

For wealthy Americans worried about higher taxes, the future is looking bleaker. It’s all but inevitable that the Biden administration, as well as lawmakers at the state level, will target millionaires and billionaires for more levies. The new reality could feel harsh for investors who got used to paying a top rate of 23.8% on their capital gains, an amount they can lower further with many of the deductions, incentives and accounting tricks offered by the U.S. tax code.

Advisers, of course, will certainly try to help their clients adapt to whatever the new rules may be. “We’re not going to evade taxes, but we’re going to avoid them and defer them as much as we can,” Bill Schwartz, managing director at Wealthspire Advisors, said in an interview. “We’re only beginning to explore. Give us a year or two and we’ll find ways around things.”

Wealthy Americans were amply warned that Biden and Democrats in Congress want to raise their taxes. But what has surprised at least some of them is the size and speed of proposals. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Biden plans to nearly double taxes on capital gains, pushing the top rate to 43.4% for those earning $1 million or more. If passed by the Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress, it would fulfill a campaign pledge “to reward work, not just wealth” by bringing the tax on investors up around the level paid on ordinary wage income.

Some members of the top 0.1% expressed anger, denial and grief. The stock market, which has steadily risen since Biden won the election, reacted with dismay, with U.S. equities falling the most in five weeks on Thursday.  “Obviously, this is eye popping,” John Norris, chief economist at Oakworth Capital Bank, said in a note sent to clients. He calmed clients with the suggestion that “it likely won’t come to pass, at least at these levels,” adding: “Remember, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have wealthy donors who probably won’t like this very much.”

Epic Shift

Biden is signaling an epic shift in tax policy: For more than a generation, presidents and Congresses have rolled out the red carpet for investors. When not cutting taxes on capital gains and dividends, lawmakers introduced incentives designed to encourage investment in targeted areas.

They were following both campaign contributors and economic orthodoxy, which insisted that low taxes encourages the sort of investment that boosts economic growth. But then a new generation of economists pointed out that the real-world evidence for those theories was flimsy.

Tax cuts don’t seem to have juiced economic growth in the U.S. over the last few decades, even as they coincided with soaring income and wealthy inequality. Incentives programs — such as Opportunity Zones, a bipartisan idea to steer money to low-income areas implemented by  Donald Trump — have been criticized for rewarding investment that would have taken place anyway.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” James Bertles, managing director at Tiedemann Advisors in Palm Beach, Florida, said in an interview. However, after the federal government spent trillions of dollars on Covid-19 relief, “most people think taxes are going to go up — it’s inevitable. We just don’t know which taxes are going to go up.”

If Biden is successful, Wall Street and investors who make most of their money from capital gains may need to get used to the idea that their taxes will look more like those of wealthy professionals such as doctors, lawyers, entertainers and even investment bankers who currently face marginal income tax rates north of 50% in high-tax states.

“Nothing is going to surprise us as this point,” said Tara Thompson Popernik, director of research for Bernstein Private Wealth Management’s wealth planning and analysis group. “We’ve been telling our clients for some time that this is likely coming.”

Tax Strategies

Strategies to avoid a higher capital gains rate will depend on the details of the proposal, and on what other provisions get changed. An obvious technique, Schwartz and other advisers said, would be to keep incomes under $1 million — or whatever threshold is in the final legislation.

Investors might also avoid the higher rate by holding onto assets for as long as possible. That strategy, however, could be complicated by other provisions that Biden and Democrats have floated, like beefing up the estate tax and ending a rule, called step-up-in-basis, that allows asset-holders to wipe away capital gains taxes at death.

Life insurance products could also be a way for investors to cut investment taxes, as long as Democrats don’t target those strategies as well. Alternatively, investors and business owners could rush to sell assets now, or before the end of the year — assuming tax changes aren’t made retroactive to the beginning of the year — to lock in lower rates. Advisers said they’ve been discussing sales of art and family businesses, along with highly appreciated stock, by year-end.

“If you’re going to do it anyway, maybe do it now,” Bernstein’s Thompson Popernik said. “The worry is that in the fourth quarter everyone else is going to be trying to make those changes at the same time.” Thursday’s drop in the market prompted worries that, as Biden’s plans solidify and Congress starts to take action, stocks could continue to sell off. But it might not work that way.

“I would tell people to temper their fear of a significant drop-off in the markets,” said Bob Schneider, director of financial planning at Johnson Financial Group. Historically, markets have often risen even while taxes are going up, he said. Indeed, stocks climbed on Friday after strong economic data.

Also, what else are investors going to do with their money? Especially at a time when the economy seems to be bouncing back from the pandemic, many investors want exposure to stocks. “Yields are very low, so there aren’t a whole lot of other options,” Schneider said. “People will realize their gains and probably turn right back around and put their money back in the market.”

By: Ben Steverman

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Critics:
A wealth tax (also called a capital tax or equity tax) is a tax on an entity’s holdings of assets. This includes the total value of personal assets, including cash, bank deposits, real estate, assets in insurance and pension plans, ownership of unincorporated businesses, financial securities, and personal trusts (an on-off levy on wealth is a capital levy).Typically, liabilities (primarily mortgages and other loans) are deducted from an individual’s wealth, hence it is sometimes called a net wealth tax. Wealth taxes are in use in many countries around the world and seek to reduce the accumulation of wealth by individuals.

Some jurisdictions require declaration of the taxpayer’s balance sheet (assets and liabilities), and from that ask for a tax on net worth (assets minus liabilities), as a percentage of the net worth, or a percentage of the net worth exceeding a certain level. Wealth taxes can be limited to natural persons or they can be extended to also cover legal persons such as corporations. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, about a dozen European countries had a wealth tax in 1990.

Colombia, France, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland are the countries that raised revenue from net wealth taxes on individuals in 2019, according to OECD statistics. In 2019, net wealth taxes accounted for 3.79 percent of overall tax revenues in Switzerland, but just 0.19 percent in France.

According to an OECD study on wealth taxes, these taxes can deter risk-taking and entrepreneurship, stifling innovation and slowing long-term development. A net wealth tax, according to the study, could encourage investment and risk-taking. Essentially, the point is that since a wealth tax will reduce an entrepreneur’s after-tax return, the entrepreneur would be more likely to invest in riskier investments in order to maximize a possible return. A wealth tax, on the other hand, would be an especially ineffective way to promote risk-taking

 

 

 

Here’s What Could Happen When $300 Unemployment Expires, According To Goldman Sachs


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Amid reports of labor shortages and fears of economic overheating thanks to what some view as excessive government stimulus spending, a total of 26 states are now planning to end the $300 federal unemployment supplement in order to spur hiring—here’s what analysts from Goldman Sachs expect to happen once payments stop.

Key Facts

Goldman’s analysts point out that since 25 of the states ending the benefit early only account for 29% of pandemic job losses, it’s likely that the pressures on the labor market—worker shortages and a depressed labor force participation rate—will continue until the benefits expire in every state at the beginning of September.

The analysts note that it’s too soon to say how the early end of benefits will affect official employment statistics—that insight will likely be contained in the July jobs report the Labor Department will publish in August.

That said, claims for regular state unemployment insurance benefits have fallen faster in states that have announced they will end the supplement early—the analysts say this is a “hint” that hiring will pick up once the benefits are phased out, but note that other data like the volume of job postings don’t yet support that conclusion.

The analysts say their “best guess” is that the expiring benefits will “provide a significant tailwind to hiring in the coming months,” spurring growth of more than 150,000 jobs in July and more than 400,000 jobs in September, though they note that the prediction is still uncertain.

Based on previous academic studies, the analysts estimate that a typical worker receiving regular state benefits will see those benefits drop by 50% once the $300 supplement expires in their state, and the duration of their unemployment would fall roughly 25%.

Crucial Quote

“The temporary boost in unemployment benefits . . . helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are still maybe in the process of getting vaccinated, but it’s going to expire in 90 days,” President Biden said during prepared remarks after the release of the May jobs report last week. “That makes sense.”

Big Number

$12 billion. That’s how much local economies in the 24 red states that had announced an early termination of the $300 federal supplement as of June 2 are expected to lose as a result of ending the benefit early, according to a report from Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.

Surprising Fact

On Thursday, Louisiana became the first state with a Democratic governor to announce the early expiration of the $300 supplement. The other 25 states have Republican governors.

Key Background

An emergency federal unemployment insurance supplement was first authorized in the amount of $600 per week as part of the CARES Act last year. A new supplement of $300 was authorized by executive order under President Trump after the first supplement lapsed. The $300 supplement was extended once by Congress as part of a stimulus bill last December, and again by Congress as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Further Reading

Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards Becoming First Democratic Governor To Cut $300-A-Week Federal Unemployment Benefits (Forbes)

Biden: It ‘Makes Sense’ That $300 Unemployment Will End In September (Forbes)

California And Florida Are Sending Out More Stimulus Checks. Could Your State Be Next? (Forbes)

IRS Releases Child Tax Credit Payment Dates—Here’s When Families Can Expect Relief (Forbes)

Source: Here’s What Could Happen When $300 Unemployment Expires, According To Goldman Sachs

I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.

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Critics:

Several coronavirus relief bills have been considered by the federal government of the United States:

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, from December.

Beginning on February 2, 2021, Democrats in the United States Senate started to open debates on a budget resolution that would allow them to pass the stimulus package without support from Republicans through the process of reconciliation. The House of Representatives voted 218–212 to approve its version of the budget resolution.

A vote-a-rama session started two days later after the resolution was approved, and the Senate introduced amendments in the relief package. The day after, Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote as vice president in order to give the Senate’s approval to start the reconciliation process, with the House following suit by voting 219–209 to agree to the Senate version of the resolution.

Prior to the American Rescue Plan, the CARES Act from March and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, from December were both signed into law by then-president Donald Trump. Trump previously expressed support for a direct payments of $2,000 along with Joe Biden and the Democrats. Even though Trump called for Congress to pass a bill increasing the direct payments from $600 to $2,000, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill.

Additionally, the House voted on the HEROES Act on May 15, 2020, which would operate as a $3 trillion relief package, but it wasn’t considered by the Senate as Republicans said that it would be “dead on arrival”.Prior to the Georgia Senate runoffs, Biden said that the direct payments of $2,000 would be passed only if Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won; the promise of comprehensive Covid-19 relief legislation was reported as a factor in their eventual victories.On January 14, prior to being inaugurated as president, Biden announced the $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

See also

IRS Releases Child Tax Credit Payment Dates Here’s When Families Can Expect Relief

Treasury check on top of various currency bills - corona virus relief

The Internal Revenue Service said Monday it has begun sending letters to more than 36 million families likely eligible to receive payments starting in July under the newly expanded Child Tax Credit—one of the major antipoverty initiatives in President Biden’s stimulus plan—and announced the dates those payments are expected to hit bank accounts.

Key Facts

Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan significantly expanded the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 tax year: It will now provide eligible parents with a $3,000 credit for every child aged 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under age 6 (up from $2,000 per dependent child up to age 16).

Individuals earning up to $75,000 a year, heads of household up to $112,500 a year, and joint filers up to $150,000 a year are eligible to receive the full amount of the credit.

The amount of the payments will phase out by $50 for every $1,000 in adjusted gross income above those thresholds. The IRS will use information from 2019 or 2020 tax returns or the agency’s online Non-Filers tool to determine eligibility.

Some of that money will come in the form of advance payments, via either direct deposit or paper check, of up to $300 per month per qualifying child on July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15 and December 15, the IRS said Monday.

Families can claim the remainder of the credit on the 2021 tax returns they file next spring.

Big Number

$4,380. That’s the average benefit over 90% of families with children will receive under the expanded credit, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Tangent

The American Rescue Plan also made the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for 2021. It was previously refundable only up to $1,400 per child, and families needed to earn at least $2,500 to be eligible for any of that money. That means many low-income families or families with no income at all that would have been ineligible for some or all the old credit (because they didn’t earn enough to owe taxes to qualify) can receive the full benefit in 2021.

What To Watch For

The IRS said it will send a second letter to eligible families with information about the estimated monthly payments they can expect to receive. The IRS is also expected to open an online portal where families can check their eligibility, update information about income and qualifying children, check the status of their payments and opt out of the program.

Key Background

The White House has proposed extending the expanded Child Tax Credit for another five years under the American Families Plan (which has yet to be taken up by Congress), but many progressives want to make the expanded credit permanent. “No recovery will be complete unless our tax code provides a sustained pathway to economic prosperity for working adults and families,” 41 Democratic senators wrote in a letter to President Biden in March. “Your forthcoming Recovery Plan is the opportunity we have to make the expansions of these credits permanent.“

Further Reading

Expanded Monthly Child Tax Benefit Will Begin Hitting Bank Accounts July 15 (Forbes)

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The New Expanded Child Tax Credit (Forbes)

41 Democratic Senators Ask Biden To Support Permanent Child Tax Credit And Earned Income Tax Credit (Forbes)

How Much Money You Will Get From Stimulus Checks, Unemployment Benefits And Everything Else Inside Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill (Forbes)

I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.

Source: IRS Releases Child Tax Credit Payment Dates—Here’s When Families Can Expect Relief

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Critics:

There have been important changes to the Child Tax Credit that will help many families receive advance payments starting this summer. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021 only.

The expanded credit means:

  • The credit amounts will increase for many taxpayers.
  • The credit for qualifying children is fully refundable, which means that taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don’t have earned income or don’t owe any income taxes.
  • The credit will include children who turn age 17 in 2021.
  • Taxpayers may receive part of their credit in 2021 before filing their 2021 tax return.

For tax year 2021, families claiming the CTC will receive up to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17 at the end of 2021. They will receive $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6 at the end of 2021. Under the prior law, the amount of the CTC was up to $2,000 per qualifying child under the age of 17 at the end of the year.

The increased amounts are reduced (phased out), for incomes over $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and qualifying widows or widowers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for all other taxpayers.

Advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will be made regularly from July through December to eligible taxpayers who have a main home in the United States for more than half the year. The total of the advance payments will be up to 50 percent of the Child Tax Credit. Advance payments will be estimated from information included in eligible taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns (or their 2019 returns if the 2020 returns are not filed and processed yet).

The IRS urges people with children to file their 2020 tax returns as soon as possible to make sure they’re eligible for the appropriate amount of the CTC as well as any other tax credits they’re eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Filing electronically with direct deposit also can speed refunds and future advance CTC payments.

Eligible taxpayers do not need to take any action now other than to file their 2020 tax return if they have not done so.

Eligible taxpayers who do not want to receive advance payment of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will have the opportunity to decline receiving advance payments. Taxpayers will also have the opportunity to update information about changes in their income, filing status or the number of qualifying children. More details on how to take these steps will be announced soon.

The IRS also urges community groups, non-profits, associations, education groups and anyone else with connections to people with children to share this critical information about the CTC. The IRS will be providing additional materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email and other methods.

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If You’re In Your 50s or 60s, Consider These Moves To Avoid Higher Taxes In Retirement

If you are working with an eye toward retirement or even semi-retirement, you are probably (hopefully) saving more than you could in the past in your retirement accounts. You may have paid off the mortgage and paid for college and other heavy expenses of raising children. That all sounds like you are on your way, except for one big problem I call the “ticking tax time bomb.”

I’m referring to the tax debt building up in your individual retirement account, 401(k) or other retirement savings plans. And, as I wrote in my newest book, “The New Retirement Savings Time Bomb,” it can quickly deplete the very savings you were relying on for your retirement years. But there are a few ways you can avoid this problem.

While you may be watching your savings balances grow from your continuing contributions and the rising stock market, a good chunk of that growth will go to Uncle Sam. That’s because most, if not all, of those retirement savings are tax-deferred, not tax-free.

The funds in most IRAs are pretax funds, meaning they have not yet been taxed. But they will be, when you reach in to spend them in retirement. That’s when you quickly realize how much of your savings you get to keep and how much will go to the government.

The amount going to the Internal Revenue Service will be based on what future tax rates are. And given our national debt and deficit levels, those tax rates could skyrocket, leaving you with less than you had planned on, just when you’ll need the money most.

So, that’s the dire warning. But you can change this potential outcome with proper planning and making changes in the way you save for retirement going forward.

You can begin by taking steps to pay down that tax debt at today’s low tax rates and begin building your retirement savings in tax-free vehicles like Roth IRAs or even permanent life insurance which can include cash value that builds and can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement.

In addition, if you are still working, you can change the way you are saving in your retirement plans. If you have a 401(k) at work, you could make contributions in a Roth 401(k) if the plan offers that. A Roth 401(k) lets your retirement savings grow 100% tax-free for the rest of your life and even pass to your beneficiaries tax-free too.

Learn more: All about the Roth IRA

What the News Means for You and Your Money

Understand how today’s business practices, market dynamics, tax policies and more impact you with real-time news and analysis from MarketWatch.

For 2021, you can contribute up to $26,000 (the standard $19,500 contribution limit plus a $6,500 catch-up contribution for people 50 and older). With some Roth 401(k) workplace plans, you might be able to put in even more.

Then, see if you can convert some of your existing 401(k) funds either to your Roth 401(k) or to a Roth IRA. Once you do this, you will owe taxes on the amount you convert. The conversion is permanent, so make sure you only convert what you can afford to pay tax on.

Also read: We have $1.6 million but most is locked in our 401(k) plans — how can we retire early without paying so much in taxes?

Don’t let the upfront tax bill deter you from moving your retirement funds from accounts that are forever taxed to accounts that are never taxed.

Similarly, you can convert your existing IRAs to Roth IRAs, lowering the tax debt on those funds as well. The point is to not be shortsighted and avoid doing this because you don’t want to pay the taxes now. That tax will have to be paid at some point, and likely at much higher future tax rates and on a larger account balance.

It’s best to get this process going now, maybe even with a plan to convert your 401(k) or IRA funds to Roth accounts over several years, converting small amounts each year to manage the tax bill.

If you have been contributing to a traditional IRA, stop making those contributions and instead start contributing to a Roth IRA. Anyone 50 or over can put in up to $7,000 a year ($6,000 plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution) and you can do so for a spouse even if that spouse is not working.

If one of you has enough earnings from a job or self-employment (and you don’t exceed the Roth IRA contribution income limits), each of you can contribute $7,000, totaling $14,000 in Roth IRA contributions each year. That will not only add up quickly, it will add up all in your favor because now you are accumulating retirement savings tax-free.

Related: Should you convert your IRA to a Roth if Biden’s infrastructure plan passes?

Once the funds are in a Roth IRA or other tax-free vehicles (like life insurance), those funds compound tax-free for you.

The secret is to pay taxes now. It’s so simple, but also so counterintuitive that most people don’t take advantage of this and end up paying heavy taxes in retirement that could have all been avoided.

Ed Slott is a Certified Public Accountant, an individual retirement account (IRA) distribution expert and author of “The New Retirement Savings Tax Bomb.” He is president and founder of Ed Slott and Company, providing advice and analysis about IRAs.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: If you’re in your 50s or 60s, consider these moves to avoid higher taxes in retirement – MarketWatch

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The Crypto Tax Nightmare Facing New Traders

Digital Cryptocurrency

Everyone is talking about cryptocurrency these days, and it’s easy to see why. After all, the value of Bitcoin (BTC) temporarily surpassed the $60,000 threshold earlier this year, and Ethereum (ETH) has quadrupled in value since the beginning of 2021. Of course, there are other cryptocurrencies currently making waves and helping at least some people rake in the cash, which continues creating hype among investors and everyone else.

But, there’s one aspect of crypto investing that hardly anyone is talking about — the tax implications. This is partly because taxes are boring in general, but it’s also because a lot of crypto investors have no idea what they’re doing. And — for the record — the same problem is going to come into play this year regarding NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

How Is Cryptocurrency Taxed Anyway?

Tax partner Jon D. Feldhammer of Baker Botts says that, generally speaking, cryptocurrency is treated as property and taxed accordingly. This means that you’ll face tax implications when you sell your crypto or NFT or you trade either one for another investment or even a purchase.

Let’s say you buy 1 Bitcoin (BTC) for $30,000 on January 1, 2021, and then sell it on May 6, 2021 for $50,000. In that case, Feldhammer says you would have $20,000 of taxable short-term gains.

However, he says things get tricky from here, because it’s common for people to make frequent trades for various purposes. For example, let’s say someone has $50,000 in BTC and they want to buy an NFT. In that case, they might need Ethereum to buy a specific NFT, so they trade BTC for ETH to make the purchase. In this case, Feldhammer says you still face $20,000 of taxable income because you exchanged the property (BTC) for other property (ETH), which is a taxable transaction.

Also consider this scenario: You bought BTC for $5,000 at some point in 2020, and your investment has now grown to over $50,000 in value. Law partner Asher Rubinstein at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey says that, if you decide to use your BTC to pay for a new Tesla TSLA -1.3%, you will have earned $45,000 in taxable income to report on your tax return.

You might like to think of it as a swap, he says, but “it’s like buying $5,000 worth of stock and selling it for $50,000.”

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Capital Gains

Another factor to be aware of is the fact that, for many crypto and NFT traders, frequent transactions are the norm. For example, there are a slew of investors who constantly “buy the dip” on the favorite cryptocurrency then sell when prices are high only to do it all over again.

Aaron Sherman, who is President of Odyssey Group Wealth Advisors, says many newbie investors may not realize how gains are taxed when you don’t keep crypto for very long. If the asset was held for at least one full year, the gain will be taxed at a long-term capital gain rate, which is lower than ordinary income tax rates, he says. Meanwhile, if the asset was held for less than a year, the gain is taxed as a short-term capital gain, with a rate equal to the investor’s ordinary income tax rate.

“The difference between short-term and long-term tax treatment is meant to encourage investors to hold assets for longer periods,” says Sherman. “Because of this difference, those who are day trading crypto assets could face a large tax bill on any gains they may have.”

In the meantime, Feldhammer points out that NFTs may be considered a “collectible,” in which case they would be subject to a top tax rate of 28%, rather than 20%.

Facing A Crypto Tax Nightmare? Here’s What You Should Do

If you’re someone who believes cryptocurrency is anonymous and thus not subject to taxes, think again. Matthew Unger, CEO and founder of global compliance solution iComply, says that this is not true, and that new regulation called the FATF “travel rule” will effectively capture nearly every wallet owner on a public chain.

“This regulation starts coming into effect in most countries in June 2021…a few weeks away,” he says. “Once travel rule systems are in place, users can expect their local tax authorities to come calling.”

According to tax withholding expert Wendy Walker of global tax compliance firm Sovos, you cannot avoid your tax obligations and expect them to go away.

“Unpaid taxes accrue interest and penalties every single day they go unpaid,” she says, adding that filing an extension “does not get you off the hook because even during the extension period, unpaid taxes will continue to accrue interest.”

Further, the IRS aggressively pursues unpaid tax amounts via liens on personal property, seizures of assets, garnishments of wages, and so forth.

However, Chief Tax Information Officer Mark Steber of Jackson Hewitt says that taxpayers can get on a payment plan with the IRS if they’re unable to pay before the Tax Day deadline. Just keep in mind that telling the IRS you didn’t know your crypto transactions would be taxed isn’t good enough.

“The IRS wants their money and won’t ignore unpaid bills,” he says.

Thomas Shea, Tax Partner at EY, also says that, if you’ve triggered a taxable exchange but don’t have the fiat to cover the tax, you could exchange additional assets for fiat, essentially a “sell to cover.”

If one pursues this route, however, Shea says they should be mindful of the tax consequences of disposing of such additional property (e.g., additional taxable gains on appreciated property, potential offsetting losses of depreciated property).

No matter what, you’re probably better off consulting a tax professional if you’re even a little worried about mucking up your crypto tax bill. Walker says there are a variety of deductions you can take on capital gains liabilities and there are a variety of tax credits and deductions that taxpayers can leverage to minimize the amount of income taxes actually due.

“Navigating the IRS can be daunting if you don’t have experience,” she says. “So rely on someone who does.”

I’m a personal finance expert that focuses on helping millennials get out of student loan debt and start investing for their future. I also help parents make smart choices about college financing options and navigating the complex world of paying for school. I started The College Investor in 2009 as a forum to discuss the myriad of financial issues facing young adults. I majored in Political Science at UC San Diego, and received my MBA from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego. To learn more about me, go to TheCollegeInvestor.com, or follow me on Twitter @collegeinvestin.

Source: The Crypto Tax Nightmare Facing New Traders

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Bitcoin Taxes: Overview of the Rules and How to Report Taxes

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Bitcoin seems to be everywhere these days. From its mysterious origins in 2008, it has grown into a widely accepted currency, used for everything from investing to shopping to employees’ wages. But many Bitcoin users don’t realize that buying/selling, exchanging, and even using Bitcoin to pay for things has tax implications. Yes, you read that last phrase right. In some cases, just spending your Bitcoin could be considered a profitable investment — and taxable.

From how exactly it’s taxed to how to prepare for filing, here’s what you need to know about Bitcoin taxes.

How Bitcoin is taxed

Bitcoin and its comrade cryptocurrencies (Ethereum, Ripple, Tether, and Litecoin) appeal to users because they are secure and provide a degree of anonymity. It’s that anonymity, along with the growing value of cryptocurrency transactions taking place worldwide, that has increasingly drawn attention from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in recent years.

Since you can use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for everything from online shopping to donating to charity, you might assume the IRS treats cryptocurrency like cash. That assumption can get you into hot water.

According to IRS Notice 2014-21, the IRS classifies cryptocurrencies as property, not cash or currency. That means it treats Bitcoin transactions like sales of stocks and other investments. Purchasing cryptocurrency with cash and holding on to it isn’t a taxable transaction, but selling, exchanging, or using it to purchase goods and services is.

For example, say you purchase 10 crypto coins for $10 (basically, $1 apiece) on December 1, 2020, and load them onto a cryptocurrency debit card. On December 20, 2020, that cryptocurrency is trading for $5 per coin, up from the $1 per coin you paid for it back at the beginning of December. On that day, you use your cryptocurrency debit card to pay for a $5 cup of coffee.

On your 2021 tax return, you are supposed to report a $4 short-term capital gain (“short-term” because it happened within one year). That’s the $5 per coin value you received when you purchased the cup of coffee, minus your $1 per-coin basis (what you paid for it) in the cryptocurrency.

That’s a level of record keeping that few taxpayers are willing to keep up with – if they’re aware of the requirement at all.

Why is Bitcoin taxed?

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Blockchain Capital, roughly 9% of American adults own Bitcoin. However, the IRS estimates that only a tiny percentage of them report crypto-related gains and losses on their tax returns.

In 2017, the IRS searched its database for the 2013 through 2015 tax years. It found:

  • 807 individuals reported cryptocurrency transactions in 2013
  • 893 individuals reported cryptocurrency transactions in 2014
  • 802 individuals reported cryptocurrency transactions in 2015

That discrepancy is why the IRS is making cryptocurrency taxes an enforcement priority in 2021. In fact, Form 1040 for the 2020 tax year includes a question about cryptocurrency on the front page. It asks whether you’ve received, sold, sent, exchanged or otherwise acquired a financial interest in any virtual currency.

If you check “no” to this question when you did, in fact, engage in cryptocurrency transactions, the IRS can consider that a willful attempt to avoid taxes, and you could face harsher penalties if the IRS uncovers your omission.

How to prepare and report Bitcoin tax filing

The IRS taxes Bitcoin as an investment. That means it’s subject to the same tax rate of capital gains and losses that other financial assets are subject to when you sell any holdings in it, realizing a profit or loss.

Step 1: Gather information for Bitcoin tax reporting

For each transaction, you need to know the following:

  • The amount (in dollars) you spent to buy the cryptocurrency
  • The date you purchased (or received) them
  • The date you sold or exchanged the coins
  • The amount in dollars the cryptocurrency was worth when you sold it (or value you received in the exchange)

When you sell stocks, at the end of the year, your broker will send you a Form 1099-B that includes all of the necessary information to report those sales on your tax return. But don’t expect the same service from a cryptocurrency exchange. Most crypto exchanges only send 1099 forms to customers with gross payments over $20,000 or more than 200 cryptocurrency transactions during the year.

However, you can typically generate reports through your cryptocurrency exchange platform that will include all buys, sells, sends, and receipts of cryptocurrency from the account. If all of your cryptocurrency transactions take place on one exchange, gathering the information you need for tax reporting should be relatively easy. If your cryptocurrencies are scattered across several exchanges, you’ll need to download separate reports from each of them.

Step 2: Calculate your Bitcoin gains and losses

Once you have all of the information on your cryptocurrency activity during the year, you need to determine whether you incurred a gain or loss on each transaction. To do this, you’ll need to decide which method you’ll use to value the cryptocurrencies you sell. Your options are:

  • First-in-first-out (FIFO). The coins you purchase first are the ones you sell first.
  • Specific identification. You select which coins you’re disposing of in each transaction.

The method you choose can greatly impact the amount of taxes you end up owing in a particular year.

Say you purchase 100 crypto coins for $1 each on January 1, 2021, and another 100 coins for $20 each on June 1, 2021. On February 1 of the following year, you sell 40 coins for $15 each.

Using the FIFO method assumes the 40 coins sold came from the January 2021 lot. As a result, you would have a long-term gain of $560. That’s 40 coins at $15 each less 40 coins at $1 each, or $600 – $40 = $560.

Using the specific identification method, you could decide that the four coins sold in February of 2022 came from the lot purchased in June of 2021. In that case, you would have a short-term loss of $200. That’s 40 coins at $15 each less 40 coins at $20 each, or $600 – $800 = -$200.

Some cryptocurrency exchanges provide a gain/loss report. However, these reports are typically only provided on the FIFO method, so you won’t be able to benefit from using the specific identification method if you rely on them.

Step 3: Report your Bitcoin transactions

Capital gain transactions are reported on IRS Form 8949. The form is divided into two sections:

  • Cryptocurrencies held for one year or less go in the short-term section. Short-term gains are taxed at the same rates as ordinary income, with the top rate being 37%.
  • Cryptocurrencies held for longer than one year go in the long-term section. Long-term gains qualify for more favorable long-term capital gains rates, which cap out at 20%.

Include your totals from Form 8949. If you sold other non-crypto investments, report those on a separate Form 8949. Carry the totals from all 8949 forms to IRS Schedule D.

The financial takeaway

You might have figured that investing in Bitcoin could have tax implications, especially if you make a profit on it. But it might surprise you to know that just spending your Bitcoin could trigger that taxable profit.

Purchasing cryptocurrency with cash and holding on to it isn’t a taxable transaction, but selling, exchanging, or using it to purchase goods and services is.

Tracking the ins and outs of cryptocurrency transactions can be challenging. If you own cryptocurrency and have many transactions, it’s a good idea to talk to a CPA or other tax professional familiar with cryptocurrency tax reporting. They may be able to recommend software to help track transactions and ensure you’re properly accounting for them on your tax return.

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Source: Bitcoin Taxes: Overview of the Rules and How to Report Taxes

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For more information, Checkout our Complete Guide To Cryptocurrency Taxes: https://www.cryptotrader.tax/blog/the… To learn how to import your cryptocurrency data into TurboTax: https://www.cryptotrader.tax/blog/how… To learn more about the “Cryptocurrency Tax Problem”: https://www.cryptotrader.tax/blog/cry… To learn how Cryptocurrency Mining is Treated for Tax Purposes: https://www.cryptotrader.tax/blog/how…
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Rich Americans Who Were Warned on Taxes Hunt for Ways Around Them

For wealthy Americans worried about higher taxes, the future is looking bleaker. It’s all but inevitable that the Biden administration, as well as lawmakers at the state level, will target millionaires and billionaires for more levies. The new reality could feel harsh for investors who got used to paying a top rate of 23.8% on their capital gains, an amount they can lower further with many of the deductions, incentives and accounting tricks offered by the U.S. tax code.

Advisers, of course, will certainly try to help their clients adapt to whatever the new rules may be. “We’re not going to evade taxes, but we’re going to avoid them and defer them as much as we can,” Bill Schwartz, managing director at Wealthspire Advisors, said in an interview. “We’re only beginning to explore. Give us a year or two and we’ll find ways around things.”

Wealthy Americans were amply warned that President Biden and Democrats in Congress want to raise their taxes. But what has surprised at least some of them is the size and speed of proposals.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Biden plans to nearly double taxes on capital gains, pushing the top rate to 43.4% for those earning $1 million or more. If passed by the Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress, it would fulfill a campaign pledge “to reward work, not just wealth” by bringing the tax on investors up around the level paid on ordinary wage income.

Some members of the top 0.1% expressed anger, denial and grief. The stock market, which has steadily risen since Biden won the election, reacted with dismay, with U.S. equities falling the most in five weeks on Thursday.

“Obviously, this is eye popping,” John Norris, chief economist at Oakworth Capital Bank, said in a note sent to clients. He calmed clients with the suggestion that “it likely won’t come to pass, at least at these levels,” adding: “Remember, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have wealthy donors who probably won’t like this very much.”

Epic Shift

Biden is signaling an epic shift in tax policy: For more than a generation, presidents and Congresses have rolled out the red carpet for investors. When not cutting taxes on capital gains and dividends, lawmakers introduced incentives designed to encourage investment in targeted areas.

They were following both campaign contributors and economic orthodoxy, which insisted that low taxes encourages the sort of investment that boosts economic growth. But then a new generation of economists pointed out that the real-world evidence for those theories was flimsy.

Tax cuts don’t seem to have juiced economic growth in the U.S. over the last few decades, even as they coincided with soaring income and wealthy inequality. Incentives programs — such as Opportunity Zones, a bipartisan idea to steer money to low-income areas implemented by President Donald Trump — have been criticized for rewarding investment that would have taken place anyway.

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” James Bertles, managing director at Tiedemann Advisors in Palm Beach, Florida, said in an interview. However, after the federal government spent trillions of dollars on Covid-19 relief, “most people think taxes are going to go up — it’s inevitable. We just don’t know which taxes are going to go up.”

If Biden is successful, Wall Street and investors who make most of their money from capital gains may need to get used to the idea that their taxes will look more like those of wealthy professionals such as doctors, lawyers, entertainers and even investment bankers who currently face marginal income tax rates north of 50% in high-tax states.

“Nothing is going to surprise us as this point,” said Tara Thompson Popernik, director of research for Bernstein Private Wealth Management’s wealth planning and analysis group. “We’ve been telling our clients for some time that this is likely coming.”

Tax Strategies

Strategies to avoid a higher capital gains rate will depend on the details of the proposal, and on what other provisions get changed. An obvious technique, Schwartz and other advisers said, would be to keep incomes under $1 million — or whatever threshold is in the final legislation.

Investors might also avoid the higher rate by holding onto assets for as long as possible. That strategy, however, could be complicated by other provisions that Biden and Democrats have floated, like beefing up the estate tax and ending a rule, called step-up-in-basis, that allows asset-holders to wipe away capital gains taxes at death.

Life insurance products could also be a way for investors to cut investment taxes, as long as Democrats don’t target those strategies as well.

Alternatively, investors and business owners could rush to sell assets now, or before the end of the year — assuming tax changes aren’t made retroactive to the beginning of the year — to lock in lower rates. Advisers said they’ve been discussing sales of art and family businesses, along with highly appreciated stock, by year-end.

“If you’re going to do it anyway, maybe do it now,” Bernstein’s Thompson Popernik said. “The worry is that in the fourth quarter everyone else is going to be trying to make those changes at the same time.”

Thursday’s drop in the market prompted worries that, as Biden’s plans solidify and Congress starts to take action, stocks could continue to sell off. But it might not work that way.

“I would tell people to temper their fear of a significant drop-off in the markets,” said Bob Schneider, director of financial planning at Johnson Financial Group. Historically, markets have often risen even while taxes are going up, he said.

Indeed, stocks climbed on Friday after strong economic data. Also, what else are investors going to do with their money? Especially at a time when the economy seems to be bouncing back from the pandemic, many investors want exposure to stocks.

“Yields are very low, so there aren’t a whole lot of other options,” Schneider said. “People will realize their gains and probably turn right back around and put their money back in the market.”

By:

Source: Rich Americans Hunt for Ways Around Tax Hikes They Were Warned About – Bloomberg

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