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IRS Seeks Third-Party Contractors to Help With Taxpayers’ Crypto Calculations

05/13/2020

The United States Internal Revenue Service is reportedly soliciting outside contractors to assist with calculations of cryptocurrency users’ transactions.

The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reportedly soliciting third-party contractors to assist with calculations of cryptocurrency users’ transactions. 

Crypto tax software firm CryptoTrader.Tax publicly shared details of a letter it claims to have received from the IRS on May 12, together with an accompanying Statement of Work. 

The latter has been uploaded to CryptoTrader’s blog, along with excerpts from the letter, which reportedly stated:

“The Internal Revenue Service is engaging outside contractors to assist our Revenue Agents in calculating taxpayers’ gains or losses as a result of their transactions involving virtual currency. We are placing a few single-case contracts as pilots with a goal of publishing a solicitation and request for proposal for a larger multi-case contract.”

The Statement of Work provides detailed information as to the type of services sought by the IRS.

CryptoTrader.Tax says it does not intend to pursue the contract, emphasizing its focus remains serving its customers and assisting them in their tax reporting obligations directly.

What does the IRS need help with?

In order to support its examination of taxpayers using cryptocurrencies, the IRS is seeking a third-party to provide services that can help to aggregate, value and compute the gains and losses incurred by individuals’ cryptocurrency transactions. 

This process may, in some cases, be relatively simple, the IRS notes, but in others transactions may be dispersed across multiple exchanges and digital wallets. 

The IRS provides further insight into some of the challenges involved in handling crypto transaction data, noting that:

“Specialized technology and infrastructure is required to digest, contain, and analyze virtual currency data due to unique requirements such as but not limited to decimal place precision, varying field formats, and file formats.”

Beyond data management and analysis, the IRS seeks help with report preparation, data discrepancy analysis, error resolution and report revisions. 

The contractor would also be expected to be present at taxpayer meetings and to assist the IRS with trial preparations. They would potentially be asked to testify at trials as a summary witness in order to explain the calculations derived from the underlying data.

Notably, the IRS reveals the scope of the data it expects to be marshalled for analysis and calculation, which could include but is not limited to:

“Publicly available on-chain data and private off-chain data; API keys obtained through exchanges, wallets; CSV, Excel or PDF files from various sources; paper documentation submitted by taxpayers; data obtained through merchant electronic systems; related data obtained by the contractor for valuation purposes.”

Further resources

As reported, the IRS has released two recent pieces of detailed guidance for taxpayers who engage in transactions involving digital currency. These provide insights into hard forks and airdrops, recommended calculation methods and necessary documentation.