The cryptocurrency industry, and as a result, cryptocurrency taxes are constantly evolving. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a rapidly growing area of cryptocurrency that provides access to financial services, including trading, borrowing, and lending, without middleman like traditional financial institutions. This has provided many financial options for traders and long-term holders.

As with any evolution of cryptocurrency transactions, it is important to understand the tax implications of Decentralized Finance activities. Cryptocurrency tax is generally a tough topic for many investors and even tax professionals. Since the IRS has not given specific guidance for DeFi, this article is based existing cryptocurrency tax guidance and our interpretation of current tax laws.

If you are not familiar with the taxation of cryptocurrency transaction, read our Cryptocurrency Tax Guide before reading this article on the tax implications of various DeFi transactions.

How To File Cryptocurrency Taxes for Your DeFi Transactions

Our team at Camuso CPA can import data from Decentralized Finance platforms to calculate your interest, lending income, capital gains and losses. All that is required to start this process to the have the ETH addresses that were used for your transactions.

Cryptocurrency Tax Advantage & Disadvantages for DeFi Transactions

There are many tax benefits to using DeFi that you will read throughout this article as we cover different facets of decentralized finance. Some of the most notable benefits include borrowing against your cryptocurrency as collateral to maintain tax holding periods, avoid triggering taxable events by borrowing, rebalancing portfolios without triggering taxable events and favorable tax treatment with some lending protocols treated as capital gains.

There can also be potential drawbacks to Defi including unexpected income generated from token distributions and taxable events triggered wihen minting tokens.

Cryptocurrency Lending: Providing Cryptocurrency In Return For Interest

If you lend cryptocurrency or contribute it to a lending platform you will be liable for income that you earn for lending the cryptocurrency. Lending your cryptocurrency does not trigger a taxable event as if you sold your cryptocurrency, but the income you generate will be taxable.

The income you earn usually will be taxed as ordinary income but can also be taxed as capital gains depending on the facts and circumstances of the platform you are using.

If you are using Liquidity Pool tokens, these are scenarios where you may be liable for capital gains rather than ordinary income. This is due to the nature of liquidity pools, when you add or remove liquidity the transaction is structured like a token swap rather than income.

When transactions as taxed as capital gains this can offer potential tax benefits. The benefits include, being able to offset capital gains with losses and holding for long-term periods to receive favorable tax rates.

It is important to consult with an experienced cryptocurrency CPA regarding each individual Defi Platform and their tax treatment.

Cryptocurrency Borrowing: Receiving Loans for Cryptocurrency as collateral

Cryptocurrency loans offer great tax advantages for investors that are seeking liquidity without realizing taxable events or liquating their holdings. If you borrow using your cryptocurrency as collateral, you don’t realize tax on the cryptocurrency used as collateral since this is not a sale of cryptocurrency.

As long as your cryptocurrency is not sold or exchanged for another cryptocurrency, you will not realize a taxable event.

A risk associated with borrowing cryptocurrency is that if the value the cryptocurrency used as collateral goes down too much, or if the value of assets borrowed increases too much then you’ll trigger a margin call / liquidation. This would be treated as if you sold your cryptocurrency for dollars and will trigger a taxable event.

Cryptocurrency Taxes for Governance and Incentive Tokens

Many DeFi platforms now utilize governance and incentive tokens which are earned as income. When these types of tokens are distributed they will be taxed as ordinary income at the current market value. This value will also establish your cost basis. If you sell this token after holding it you may also realize a capital gain or less depending on the price of the token at the time of sale.

Wrapping Up

Taxpayers should very carefully consider all the cryptocurrency tax factors while participating in any cryptocurrency transaction, particularly DeFi.  It is important to consult with an experienced cryptocurrency CPA regarding your specific portfolio and/or business.

Here at Camuso CPA, we offer cryptocurrency tax services nationwide. Our team is highly experienced in cryptocurrency. We were the first CPA firm to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment during 2017. Contact our team today to discuss your portfolio in detail here.