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[Discussion] New IRS and Treasury Regulations on Crypto Transactions Set to Transform Tax Reporting from 2026

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Implications of the New Crypto Regulations

The new regulations as finalized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Department of Treasury are setting a groundbreaking approach to the year-long debate surrounding the standardization of tax reporting on cryptocurrency holdings. Indeed, a major provision of the Biden administration's Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed in 2021 has come to life. The central proposition is that cryptocurrency platforms are expected to file reports of asset transactions to the IRS, effective from 2026. It is noteworthy that decentralized platforms that do not handle assets will not be influenced by this regulation.

Reporting Mechanism and Scope of Regulations

Cryptocurrency assets, despite popular misconceptions, have always been subject to tax. The disparity in understanding arises from the lack of uniformity in reporting requirements to the government and individual investors. With the new regulations, the reporting of transactions beginning in 2026 will take a cohesive form. A standard 1099 form, similar to those traditionally used by banks and financial brokerages, will be the valid reporting instrument.

The implication of these regulations is two-fold. On the one hand, it simplifies tax payment procedures on cryptocurrency holdings; on the other, it curbs the potential for tax evasion. The IRS and Treasury Department have consistently expressed concerns about the use of digital assets as a haven for hidden taxable income. "We need to make sure digital assets are not used to hide taxable income, and these final regulations will improve detection of noncompliance in the high-risk space of digital assets," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

Exceptions and Future Measures

The final regulations although firm, are not without considerations. "Custodial" platforms that handle and possess customer assets are the main subjects of these reporting requirements. As a result of passionate lobbying by the cryptocurrency industry, decentralized brokers who do not handle customer assets will be exempt from these regulations. The Blockchain Association, a lobbying entity for the industry, hailed the exclusion as "a testament to the incredibly powerful voice of our industry and community."

While the decentralized sectors may celebrate for now, the Treasury Department and the IRS have stated that these brokers will be addressed in a separate set of regulations. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to evolve, the context of these regulations and their enforcement will define the dynamics of digital asset transactions in the years to come.

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