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Building bridges between tax scholars, policymakers and practitioners
Apr 3, 2023

Tax-Loss Harvesting with Cryptocurrencies


We describe the taxation landscape in the cryptocurrency markets, especially concerning U.S. taxpayers, and examine how recent increases in tax scrutiny have led to changes in crypto investors’ trading behavior. We argue conceptually and then empirically document that increased tax scrutiny leads crypto investors to utilize conventional tax planning with tax-loss harvesting as an alternative to non-compliance. In particular, domestic traders increase tax-loss harvesting following the increase in tax scrutiny, and U.S. exchanges exhibit a significantly greater amount of wash trading. Additional findings suggest that broad-based and targeted changes in tax scrutiny can differentially affect crypto traders’ preference for U.S.-based exchanges. We also discuss other gray areas for tax regulation related to new crypto assets, such as Non-Fungible Tokens and Decentralized Finance protocols, that further highlight the importance of coordinating tax policy and other regulations.

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