Taxation of Virtual Currency Mining Activities

Proof of work (PoW)—one of the consensus methodologies through which blockchain (digital ledger) transactions can be validated—relies on data miners whose mining activities involve solving complex mathematical calculations. This article discusses key tax issues for miners and the IRS’s preliminary views involving taxation of Bitcoin PoW mining activities.

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 31 – September 4, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 31, 2020 – September 4, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

September 1, 2020: The IRS released for publication in the federal register final regulations providing additional guidance on the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) imposed on certain large corporate taxpayers with respect to certain payments made to foreign related parties. The final regulations affect corporations with substantial gross receipts that make payments to foreign related parties.

September 1, 2020: The IRS announced the launch of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) Centralized Partnership Audit Regime webpage. The Centralized Partnership Audit Regime replaces the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) and the electing large partnership rules. The centralized partnership audit regime, or BBA, is generally effective for tax years beginning January 2018. Under the BBA, the IRS generally assesses and collects any understatement of tax (called an imputed underpayment) at the partnership level.

September 1, 2020: The IRS published a memorandum providing guidance on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) until Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 8.19 is revised. The guidance covers: (1) Appeals TEFRA Team (ATT) and Technical Guidance (TG) referrals; (2) Tax Court rules on BBA partnership proceedings; (3) Tax Computation Specialist (TCS) assistance; (4) Tried Cases and Counsel Settlements; (5) Tax Court Decision Appealed and Final Decision from Appeal; and (6) Department of Justice (DOJ) cases.

September 1, 2020: The IRS announced its intention to issue regulations addressing the application of sections 951 and 951A of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) to certain S corporations (as defined in section 1361(a)(1)) with accumulated earnings and profits, as described in section 316(a)(1) (AE&P). The notice also announces that the US Department of the Treasury and the IRS intend to issue regulations addressing the treatment of qualified improvement property (QIP) under the alternative depreciation system (ADS) of section 168(g) for purposes of calculating qualified business asset investment (QBAI) for purposes of the foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) provisions. Comments should be submitted by November 2, 2020.

September 1, 2020: The IRS requested comments on Revenue Procedure 2015-40 (that provides guidance for taxpayers who believe that the actions of the United States, a treaty country or both result or will result in taxation that is contrary to the provisions of an applicable tax treaty) to submit the requested information in order to receive assistance from the IRS official acting as the US competent authority. Comments are due on or before November 2, 2020.

September 3, 2020: The IRS released the fourth quarter update to the 2019–2020 Priority Guidance Plan. The fourth quarter update to the 2019-2020 plan reflects 53 additional projects which have been published (or released) during the period from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020. This update also includes one additional project which was released on March 31, 2020.

September 3, 2020: The IRS released IRB 2020-37, dated September 8, 2020, containing the following highlights: (1) REG-116475-19 (Employee Plans); (2) Revenue Ruling 2020-16 (Estate Tax); and (3) Revenue Ruling 2020-17 (Income Tax).

September 3, 2020: The IRS announced that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning October 1, 2020. Revenue Ruling 2020-18, announcing the rates of interest, will appear in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2020-39, dated September 21, 2020.

September 4, 2020: The IRS released for future publication in the federal register on September 14, 2020 final regulations providing guidance about the limitation on the deduction for business interest expense after amendment of the Code by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The regulations provide guidance to taxpayers on how to calculate the limitation, what constitutes interest for purposes of the limitation, which taxpayers and trades or businesses are subject to the limitation and how the limitation applies in consolidated group, partnership, international and other contexts.

September 4, 2020: The IRS published a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the limitation on the deduction for business interest expense after amendment of the Code by the TCJA and CARES Act. Comments are due by November 2, 2020.

September 4, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.



Can Virtual Currency Traders Elect into Special Rules that Allow Current Deductions for Trading Losses?

Traders in virtual currency seeking to deduct trading losses and avoid application of the capital loss limitations would want to elect into the special tax rules found at IRC § 475(f). However, such taxpayers should analyze the definitions of “securities” and “commodities,” determine whether they are eligible for either of the trader elections, and consider the federal and state tax implications of making such an election.

Access the full article here.



Weekly IRS Roundup August 24 – August 28, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 24, 2020 – August 28, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

August 24 2020: The IRS published a memorandum concerning guidance to the field on the criteria that should be applied in considering if a request for designation for litigation should be made to the Office of Chief Counsel. The memorandum also provides interim guidance on the requirements of Section 1001 of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) with respect to the limitation on designation of cases as not eligible for referral to the IRS Independent Office of Appeals.

August 25, 2020: The IRS published a Summer 2020 Statistics of Income Bulletin. The Summer 2020 Bulletin focuses individual income tax shares, 2017; foreign recipients of US income, calendar year 2017; effects of post-filing adjustments on Statistics of Income (SOI) estimates; and implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

August 25, 2020: The IRS published a practice unit focusing on the definition of foreign earned income for purposes of section 911.

August 26, 2020: The IRS published a notice and request for comments on Treasury Decision 8702 concerning certain transfers of domestic stock or securities by US persons to foreign corporations. The regulation relates to certain transfers of stock or securities of domestic corporations pursuant to the corporate organization, reorganization or liquidation provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). Transfers of stock or securities by US persons in tax-free transactions are treated as taxable transactions when the acquirer is a foreign corporation, unless an exception applies under section 367(a). The regulation provides that no US person will qualify for an exception unless the US target company complies with certain reporting requirements. The comments should be received on or before October 26, 2020.

August 26, 2020: The IRS published a notice and request for comments on Treasury Decision 8612 concerning the availability of the gift and estate tax marital deduction when the donee spouse or the surviving spouse is not a US citizen. The regulation provides guidance to individuals or fiduciaries: (1) for making a qualified domestic trust election on the estate tax return of a decedent whose surviving spouse is not a US citizen in order that the estate may obtain the marital deduction; and (2) for filing the annual returns that such an election may require. The comments should be received on or before October 26, 2020.

August 27, 2020: The IRS published an announcement on the opening of the application period for the 2021 Compliance Assurance Process program. The application period runs September 1 to November 13, 2020. The IRS will inform applicants if they’re accepted into the program in February 2021.

August 28, 2020: The IRS published corrections to Treasury Decision 9900, which was published in the Federal Register on July 8, 2020. Treasury Decision 9900 contained temporary regulations that permit consolidated groups that acquire new members that were members of another consolidated group to elect in a year subsequent to the year of acquisition to waive all or part of the pre-acquisition portion of an extended carryback period under section 172 for certain losses attributable to the acquired members if there is a retroactive statutory extension of the net operating loss (NOL) carryback period under section 172. The corrections are effective on August 28, 2020.

August 28, 2020: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2020-36, dated August 31, 2020, containing the following highlights: (1) Rev. Proc. 2020-38 (Administrative); (2) Announcement 2020-14, Notice 2020-60, and Notice 2020-64 (Employee Plans); and (3) Rev. Proc. 2020-39 (Income Tax).

August 28, 2020: The IRS published a news release announcing it will temporarily allow the use of digital signatures on certain forms that cannot be filed electronically in response to COVID-19.

August 28, 2020: The IRS issued guidance implementing President Donald Trump’s order to defer collection of some payroll taxes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 28, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.



When Can Bitcoin Positions Be Taxed as Mixed Straddles Subject to the Special Mixed Straddle Rules?

Taxpayers who enter into offsetting positions in actively traded personal property where one or more—but not all—of the positions making up a straddle are taxed as section 1256 contracts (while another offsetting position is not a section 1256 contract) are subject to the mixed straddle rules. Potential adverse consequences can be magnified or made more complex by application of these special rules. This article can help taxpayers understand and take action to minimize or avoid these consequences when such positions involve virtual currencies.

Access the full article here.



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