By Anndy Lian
President Joe Biden’s proposed budget plan has caused a stir in the crypto community due to its intention to terminate tax loss harvesting on crypto transactions. The reactions from the community have been mixed, with some perceiving this as an infringement on the freedom of crypto traders while others view it as a necessary step in regulating the industry and curbing tax evasion.
Tax loss harvesting is a technique used to minimize an individual’s tax liability by deliberately selling an investment at a loss to offset present and/or future capital gains. It reduces the amount of tax one pays for selling profitable investments. Although tax loss harvesting is usually carried out manually towards the end of the year, a systematic approach that identifies these opportunities automatically and acts on them throughout the year can be more effective, even for fixed income or income-generating securities. This approach allows individuals to decrease their tax liability by deducting the losses from their taxable income. However, this strategy has come under fire for being a loophole that enables affluent investors to evade taxes. The termination of tax loss harvesting on crypto transactions is estimated to raise up to $24 billion and reduce the deficit by $3 trillion.
Advocates of this proposition contend that it is an imperative measure to promote fairness and equity among taxpayers by ensuring that everyone contributes their fair share. They argue that the current tax system is biased towards the wealthy, who are able to exploit various tax loopholes and deductions to lower their tax bills. This ultimately results in middle-class and low-income earners being unfairly burdened with a disproportionate share of taxes. This imbalance creates an unjust and unequal tax system.
On the other hand, critics of the Biden budget plan assert that ending tax loss harvesting on crypto transactions is ill-advised as it could discourage innovation and investment in the cryptocurrency industry. They posit that this move could prompt some investors to relocate their assets offshore or to other countries with more lenient tax policies, leading to an exodus of talent and capital from the United States. Moreover, they contend that this change could disproportionately affect small and medium-sized enterprises that depend on cryptocurrency investment and trading for their expansion and growth.
The strategy of tax loss harvesting is commonly utilized by investors in the United States as a means of reducing capital gains taxes on their cryptocurrency investments. However, this approach is not extensively used in other countries due to differences in tax policies specific to cryptocurrency investments. For instance, in Canada, cryptocurrency investments are regarded as commodities and are thus subject to capital gains taxes. Meanwhile, in Australia, profits from cryptocurrency investments are also subject to capital gains taxes, with cryptocurrency considered property for tax purposes.
In the United Kingdom, gains from cryptocurrency investments are taxable under capital gains tax, but it is not possible to use losses to offset other gains. On the other hand, in Germany, cryptocurrency investments held for over a year are exempted from capital gains taxes, but those held for less than a year are taxed at the investor’s personal income tax rate. While other countries like Japan and South Korea have also established tax policies specific to cryptocurrency investments, these policies can differ significantly and may be subject to revision over time.Closing the crypto tax loss harvesting loophole could be viewed as a step in the right direction towards regulating the cryptocurrency industry and ensuring tax fairness. However, it is important to weigh the potential consequences of this policy change.
To summarize, I believe that closing the cryptocurrency tax loss harvesting loophole as proposed in President Biden’s budget plan is not a good policy. It could have negative impacts on small investors, innovation, and the market as a whole, while also not generating significant revenue for the government. Rather than this approach, I suggest exploring alternative policies that promote growth and innovation in the cryptocurrency industry while still ensuring that the government can collect revenue.
The author is an intergovernmental blockchain expert