Can You Write Off Being Scammed On Your Crypto Taxes?

Crypto scams and rug pulls happen. Unfortunately, if it happens to a U.S. taxpayer, claiming a casualty or theft loss on taxes is probably not possible.

Zac McClure
ByZac McClure, MBAUpdated on April 28, 2022 · minute read

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Key Takeaways

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited individual casualty and theft deductions to federal disasters, so crypto hacks or scams are unlikely to be eligible.

  • If you do lose funds from a hack, scam, or technical problem, you still need to record it in your crypto tax software.

Crypto hacks and scams are every investor’s worst nightmare, but sadly they are not unheard of. Neither are technical breakdowns (nor simply the human error of forgetting your private key).

When facing major losses from theft, fraud, rug pulls, and the like, traders often hope that they will find a silver lining in the tax code: at least they can deduct the losses as casualties or thefts, right? Unfortunately, if you're a U.S. tax payer, the answer is no.

Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 severely restricted which events are eligible for casualty and theft deductions.[1] Today, only losses stemming from a federally-declared disaster may be deducted as casualties. This scenario is unlikely to apply to crypto losses

What’s more, tax deductions for theft were removed altogether. These provisions will remain in effect until at least 2025. 

If you still have possession of tokens, but they have become illiquid because of a rug pull (or another scenario), the safest way to realize losses is to sell them on an exchange or in an over-the-counter arm's length transaction.

Nevertheless, you should record frauds, rug pulls, and losses in your crypto tax software so that the algorithm doesn't include those tax lots in any specific identification accounting. On TokenTax, you can manually categorize these transactions as "lost" or "stolen." Also include the transaction details for the acquisition of the lost or stolen coins so you can account for the disposal of the crypto you used to buy them.

It's important to remain vigilant about the security of your digital assets. Use good wallet hygiene—never share your seed phrase or private key and consider using a hardware wallet, among other measures.

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Last reviewed by Zac McClure, MBA on April 28, 2022 · Sources

Zac McClure
Zac McClureCo-Founder 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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