How the IRS Will Tax Bitcoin ETFs in 2024

Tynisa (Ty) Gaines
ByTynisa (Ty) Gaines, EAReviewed byZac McClure, MBAUpdated on February 9, 2024 · minute read
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  • Bitcoin ETFs tax involves assessing capital gains based on the holding period and applicable tax rates, with short-term gains taxed differently from long-term gains.

  • Taxpayers should anticipate potential tax liabilities arising from ETF sales, considering factors such as holding duration, applicable tax brackets, and IRS reporting requirements.

How are Bitcoin ETFs taxed?

Bitcoin ETFs have recently become a major focus in the financial world, particularly with the recent approval by the SEC. Understanding how these ETFs are taxed is crucial for investors navigating the cryptocurrency market. In terms of taxation, Bitcoin ETFs are treated similarly to holding Bitcoin directly. In many jurisdictions, including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, ETFs investing in capital assets or property (such as cryptocurrencies) are taxed accordingly. 

Investors are required to pay taxes on gains from Bitcoin ETFs. Similar to holding Bitcoin directly, selling ETF shares can result in either capital gains or losses, which are typically subject to taxation. The tax treatment of Bitcoin ETFs varies based on factors such as the holding period and the investor's overall taxable income. Understanding and fulfilling tax obligations is essential for investors to comply with tax laws and avoid potential penalties or legal issues.

Do I need to pay taxes on ETF?

US investors are required to pay taxes on gains from Bitcoin ETFs. When selling ETF shares, investors must consider whether they've realized a capital gain or loss, determining their tax liability. 

It's crucial to understand the tax implications and fulfill tax obligations to ensure compliance with regulations and avoid potential legal consequences. When in doubt, our team of crypto tax professionals at TokenTax is available to assist.

ETF tax and capital gains assessments

Upon selling Bitcoin ETF assets, US taxpayers are subject to taxation on the resulting capital gains. If ETF shares are held for less than a year before selling, the resulting short-term capital gains are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. These rates vary depending on the investor's overall taxable income and filing status, which range from 10% to 37%. 

If ETF shares are held for over a year before selling, the resulting long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates of 0%, 15%, or 20%. Short-term capital gains from selling Bitcoin ETF shares held for less than a year are taxed at regular income tax rates ranging from 10% to 37%, based on an investor's overall taxable income and filing status. 

On the other hand, long-term capital gains from selling ETF shares held for more than a year are subject to preferential tax rates, providing incentives for investors to hold their ETF shares for longer periods to qualify for lower tax rates.

International taxpayers can refer to our helpful country guides for more details about regions outside the US.

2023 tax brackets

Understanding the income and capital gains tax brackets for the 2023 tax year is essential for US investors to calculate their tax liability on Bitcoin ETF gains. Tax brackets determine the percentage of an individual's income that goes towards taxes, with higher incomes generally taxed at higher rates.

Short-term capital gains tax brackets (2023)

Tax rateSingle filerMarried filing jointlyMarried filing separatelyHead of household
10%Up to $11,000Up to $22,000Up to $11,000Up to $15,700
12%$11,000 to $44,725$22,000 to $89,450$11,000 to $44,725$15,700 to $59,850
22%$44,725 to $95,375$89,450 to $190,750$44,725 to $95,375$59,850 to $95,350
24%$95,375 to $182,100$190,750 to $364,200$95,375 to $182,100$95,350 to $182,100
32%$182,100 to $231,250$364,200 to $462,500$182,100 to $231,250$182,100 to $231,250
35%$231,250 to $578,125$462,500 to $693,750$231,250 to $346,875$231,250 to $578,100
37%More than $578,125More than $693,750More than $346,875More than $578,100

Long-term capital gains tax brackets (2023)

Tax rateSingle filerMarried filing jointlyMarried filing separatelyHead of household
0%Up to $44,625Up to $89,250Up to $44,625Up to $59,750
15% $44,625 – $492,300$89,250 – $553,850$44,625 – $276,900$59,750 – $523,050
20% More than $492,300More than $553,850More than $276,900More than $523,050

Reviewing these tax brackets can help investors estimate their crypto tax liability on Bitcoin ETF gains and plan their investment strategies accordingly.

How TokenTax can help

TokenTax offers comprehensive tax solutions for cryptocurrency investors, including Bitcoin ETFs tax. Our platform provides features such as:

  • Data import: Easily sync your data from various wallets and exchanges to streamline your tax reporting process.

  • Tax reports: Generate comprehensive tax reports, including FIFO, LIFO, Minimization, and average cost tax liability calculations, tax loss harvesting dashboards, mining and staking income reports, Ethereum gas fee reports, and custom enterprise reports.

  • Crypto tax forms: Automatically generate all necessary tax forms, including Form 8949, Schedule D, FBAR, and international forms, to facilitate your tax filing process.

  • Reconciliation: For investors with complex accounting needs, our team of crypto-savvy tax professionals offers advanced reconciliation services, ensuring accuracy and compliance in your tax reporting.

With TokenTax, investors can navigate the complexities of cryptocurrency taxation with ease, ensuring compliance and maximizing tax efficiency.

Schedule a FREE crypto tax consultation

Bitcoin ETFs tax FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Bitcoin ETFs tax and what US taxpayers can expect from the IRS.

How to avoid taxes on Bitcoin ETFs

While taxes on Bitcoin ETFs are inevitable upon selling ETF shares, investors can employ tax planning strategies to minimize their tax liability. These strategies may include holding ETF shares for more than a year to qualify for lower long-term capital gains tax rates, offsetting capital gains from Bitcoin ETFs with capital losses from other investments through tax loss harvesting, and taking advantage of tax-deferred accounts, such as retirement accounts, to invest in Bitcoin ETFs and defer taxes on gains until withdrawals are made.

What is a crypto or Bitcoin ETF?

A crypto or Bitcoin ETF is an exchange-traded fund that allows investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, without directly holding the underlying assets. These ETFs track the performance of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and are traded on stock exchanges, providing investors with a convenient and regulated way to invest in the cryptocurrency market.

What are the different types of ETFs?

There are several types of crypto ETFs, each catering to different investment objectives. The two main types of crypto ETFs are spot crypto ETFs and futures crypto ETFs. Spot crypto ETFs directly hold the underlying assets, reflecting the overall value of the ETF, while futures crypto ETFs engage in futures contracts to gain exposure to the asset's price movements. Investors can choose between spot and futures crypto ETFs based on investment goals, risk tolerance, and market outlook.

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Tynisa (Ty) Gaines
Tynisa (Ty) GainesTax Expert at TokenTax
Tynisa (Ty) Gaines, EA has more than 20 years of experience as a tax professional. Ty has published numerous tax articles, two tax e-books, and an academic publication on cryptocurrency for the National Income Tax Workbook.
Zac McClure
Reviewed byZac McClureCo-Founder & CEO at TokenTax
Zac co-founded TokenTax after his career in international finance and accounting at JPMorgan, Imprint Capital and Bain. He has worked in more than half-dozen countries and received his MBA from the UPenn Wharton School.

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