The I.R.S. will treat Bitcoin, the computer-driven online money system, as property rather than currency for tax purposes, a move that forces users who have grown accustomed to operating under the government’s radar to deal with new tax issues and reporting requirements.
The industry had been expecting the government to come out with some sort of guidance on Bitcoin, so the announcement on Tuesday did not come as much of a surprise. But some users worry that treating it as an investment could discourage the use of Bitcoin as a payment method. If a user buys a product or service with Bitcoin, for example, the I.R.S. will expect the individual to calculate the change in value from the date the user acquired Bitcoin to the date it was spent. That would give the person a basis to calculate the gains — or losses — on what the I.R.S. is now calling property.
The few employers who pay in Bitcoin will have to report those wages just like any other payment made with property, and Bitcoin income will be subject to the normal federal income withholding and payroll taxes, according to the I.R.S.
Source: New York Times