Crypto Tax Proposal in US Has Had Limited Impact on Bitcoin Market

3 August 2021

On the face of it, a U.S. bill proposing to raise $28 billion through extra cryptocurrency taxes might unnerve some bitcoin investors. But so far, the market reaction to the bill has been remarkably muted.

Last Wednesday, lawmakers drafting a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress proposed to raise $28 billion in extra crypto taxes by applying new information-reporting requirements to exchanges and other providers of crypto services. 

According to a draft of the bill, any broker who transfers any digital assets will need to file a return under a modified information reporting regime. That would enable the Internal Revenue Service to collect taxes already owed on capital gains from sales of digital assets. 

Given how digital-asset markets often react fairly quickly to news announcements – the recent rumor that Amazon would accept bitcoin as a form of payment being one example – the bill’s plan for the extra crypto taxes has so far had little impact on bitcoin prices.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, climbed in recent weeks as the news of the bill surfaced, though it has slipped in the past few days, changing hands at around $38,000 at press time.

“This isn’t a game changer for the institutional world,” said Edward Moya, a senior analyst at Oanda. “However, the announcement did disrupt a steady flow of bullish macro developments that had bitcoin poised to break out of its recent trading range.”

Moya predicts that additional crypto taxes might dissuade some retail traders from investing now, but he said the majority of the crypto world will be “unfazed.”

Some crypto experts said the bill might have a positive impact on the market, because it could give digital-asset markets more traction and visibility. Henrik Kugelberg, a crypto over-the-counter trader, views the bill as a positive sign of adoption for the market. 

“Most people are OK with paying taxes on their earnings,” he said. “This makes crypto more commonplace.” 

Jason Deane, an analyst at Quantum Economics, points to the fact that cryptocurrency is “truly a global phenomenon, and the U.S. is merely one jurisdiction, meaning impact is limited outside of it.”

Deane said that “while some within the U.S. might be discouraged from trading under the new rules, others will find confidence in the clarity, creating a neutral reaction.” 

He also noted that the limited market impact so far might come down to the bill’s implementation being far off. The measure still needs to be negotiated in Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, and it wouldn’t become fully effective until 2023. Lobbyists for the digital-asset industry are seeking to kill or water down the extra crypto taxes.

John Todaro, vice president of crypto asset and blockchain research at Needham & Co., agrees that the near-term effect on markets from the proposed crypto taxes isn’t worrying because the legislation wouldn’t come into effect for quite some time. 

Todaro is watching whether the bill’s language will change. It could get further adjusted so that it wouldn’t affect “every company in the space, such as miners, which was where the bill started,” he said.

“It was quite broad,” Todaro said. 

Deane said that despite a potential tax increase, the net effect is likely to be a “positive one on the cryptocurrency industry.”

“This move effectively legitimizes these transactions in the eyes of the government and provides a clear and robust framework of rules in which investors can operate without fear of repercussion, as long as those rules are followed,” he said.

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