Some cryptocurrency investors are receiving a new round of letters from the Internal Revenue Service telling them that their federal tax returns don’t match the information received from virtual currency exchanges, a new front in the agency’s burgeoning scrutiny of the industry.
The letters acknowledge that trading exchanges, not the taxpayers, may have made the errors.
The letters are a fresh signal that the IRS is increasing its focus on cryptocurrency tax compliance, after first being slow to stay abreast of the growing industry.
The agency’s top criminal chief has described digital and virtual currencies as a “significant threat” to tax collection and said the agency will soon announce criminal tax evasion cases.
In 2017, the IRS won a landmark lawsuit that required digital currency exchange Coinbase to hand over data on customers who bought or sold at least $20,000 in cryptocurrency from 2013 to 2015.
Some letters told recipients that they may be unaware of their tax obligations and urged them to file amended or delinquent returns. A harsher version gave other recipients a deadline to respond in writing and disclose crypto dealings from 2013 through 2017.
Unlike its release of the three letter types, the IRS didn’t formally announce its mailing of the latest letters. Instead, a page about what the latest letters mean and require appeared on the agency’s website.
"We Received Information From A Third Party (Such As Employers Or Financial Institutions) That Doesn’t Match The Information You Reported On Your Tax Return,"
the website says.
It adds that “this discrepancy may cause an increase or decrease in your tax, or may not change it at all.”
The latest letters are “unusual, because they are targeting a class of investors. The first volume of letters were ‘warning’ letters. Now it’s the IRS saying, we’ve got the records and they do not match what you have reported on your tax returns.