Important Cryptocurrency Related Proposals Included in Biden’s 2023 Budget Proposal

April 2022

Michael Bauer | Managing Director, National Corporate Tax Services
Kevin Ainsworth | Partner, National Corporate Tax Services and Mergers & Acquisitions

The Biden Administration has proposed to modernize certain tax rules relating to securities, including nonrecognition rules applicable to certain securities lending transactions and the mark-to-market rules under Section 475, to extend them to cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. The tax proposals, which were set out in the Treasury “Green Book” released March 28, would also expand certain reporting requirements to digital assets.
 

Nonrecognition for Digital Asset Lending Transactions

Gain or loss on certain securities lending transactions, which are common in securities markets, are eligible for tax nonrecognition treatment, provided applicable requirements are met. The requirements aim to ensure that the securities lender remains in a substantially similar economic position as it would have been in absent the loan. For purposes of the nonrecognition rules, “securities” include stocks, bonds, notes, and related interests – but not digital assets.

The Administration’s proposal would extend these nonrecognition rules to “loans of actively traded digital assets recorded on cryptographically secured distributed ledgers.” Treasury would have authority to determine when a digital asset is publicly traded, and the authority to extend the rules to non-actively traded digital assets. The change is intended to modernize the rules to account for the expansion of the market for financial asset lending to include digital assets. The proposal would also “clarify” that, except as provided by Treasury, certain fixed-term loans are subject to the nonrecognition rules (assuming all other requirements are satisfied) and would provide Treasury with the authority to extend nonrecognition treatment to loans of other assets, such as interests in publicly traded partnerships.

The change is proposed to be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.
 

Expansion of Section 475 Mark-to-Market Rules

Under Section 475, dealers in securities must value their inventory and non-inventory securities at year end using mark-to-market accounting. Mark-to-market accounting is also available by election for dealers in commodities and traders in securities and commodities. For this purpose, securities include stock and certain other financial instruments. However, mark-to-market accounting under Section 475 is not available for dealers or traders of digital assets, including those that are actively traded.

The Administration proposes to extend elective mark-to-market accounting to dealers and traders of “actively traded digital assets and derivatives on, or hedges of, those digital assets.” Importantly, digital assets would not be treated as securities or commodities for purposes of Section 475, and therefore would only be eligible for mark-to-market accounting when held by an electing dealer or trader of digital assets.

The change is proposed to be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.
 

New Digital Asset Reporting Requirements

The Green Book also sets out two new proposed reporting regimes in connection with digital assets.

One proposal would create new reporting requirements for certain financial institutions and brokers for purposes of international information exchange. The proposal would, together with existing law, require brokers (such as U.S. digital asset exchanges) to report gross proceeds (and any other information that Treasury may require) with respect to the sale of digital assets by their customers and, in the case of certain passive entities, their substantial foreign owners. The proposed requirements would be effective for returns filed after December 31, 2023.

The other reporting proposal would amend Section 6038D, which requires reporting by certain taxpayers holding interests in a “specified foreign financial assets,” to extend the reporting requirement to “any account that holds digital assets maintained by a foreign digital asset exchange or other foreign digital asset service provider.” For this purpose, a foreign digital asset account is expected to be defined based on where the exchange or service provider is organized or established. The reporting requirement would continue to apply only to taxpayers with an aggregate value of specified foreign financial assets in excess of $50,000. This requirement is proposed to be effective for returns required to be filed after December 31, 2022.