Sacrilegious Binance Reorg Would 'Erode' Bitcoin ...

US Tax Guide for ETH and other cryptocurrencies

Introduction:  
Greetings, fellow ethtraders! Happy New Year! In the next few months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As an Enrolled Agent and a ETH/cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in ETH and other cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
 
 
1. Are ETH/cryptocurrency realized gains taxable?
Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell ETH, BTC, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
 
2. If I sell my ETH for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed?
Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the ETH, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
 
3. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or another cryptocurrency, is this a taxable transaction?
Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here.
This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your ETH for USD. The second transaction is buying the OMG with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts. For example, I buy 1 ETH for $600 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 ETH rises to $700. I transfer that 1 ETH to Bittrex and use it to buy 37 OMG. I have to report a capital gain of $100 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 37 OMG I purchased is $700.
 
4. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or other cryptocurrency, could that be considered a tax-free like-kind exchange?
Probably not. The new tax law says that like-kind exchanges only pertain to real estate transactions. This was done with Section 13303, which replaced “property” with “real property” for all of Section 1031 (page 72 near the bottom). My personal interpretation:
In 2018 and going forward, cryptocurrencies can definitely not be like-kind exchanged.
In 2017 and before, it is a very gray area. I personally am not taking the position that they can be like-kind exchanged, because if the IRS went after a taxpayer who did this, the IRS would probably win and the taxpayer would owe taxes, interest, and probably penalties on every single little gain made from trading one cryptocurrency for another.
Here is a great interpretation of why trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is probably not a like-kind transaction.
In my opinion, the biggest factor is that like-kind exchanges must be reported on Form 8824 and not just ignored. Therefore, if a taxpayer is claiming like-kind exchanges on crypto to crypto exchanges, he or she would have to fill out a Form 8824 for each individual transaction of crypto to crypto, which would be absolutely cumbersome if there are hundreds or thousands of such trades.
Here is another article about like-kind exchanges.
Here is the American Institute of CPAs' letter to the IRS, dated June 10, 2016, asking them to release guidance on whether crypto to crypto can be like-kind exchanged or not. The IRS has not responded to the letter.
 
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency?
The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 ETH for $300 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 ETH for $800. Your realized gain would be $800 - $300 = $500. Since you held it for one year or less, the $500 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
 
6. Which ETH's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases?
The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first ETH at $300, a second ETH at $530, and a third ETH at $400. Later on, I sell one ETH for $800. I can use:
FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first ETH, $300, which would result in a gain of $500.
LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third ETH, $400, which would result in a gain of $400.
Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three ETH, $410, which would result in a gain of $390.
Specific identification - I can just choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second ETH's cost basis, $530, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $270.
 
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return?
Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
 
8. What is the tax rate on my capital gains?
If long-term, the tax rate is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your ordinary income tax bracket. If short-term, the tax bracket you’ll be in will depend on your total income and deductions. The ordinary income tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% in 2017 and 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37% in 2018 and going forward.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 ordinary income tax brackets.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets.
Here is a detailed article on how the calculation of long-term capital gains tax work and how you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gains rate, if applicable.
 
9. If I mine ETH or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable?
Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $7,000 worth of ETH in 2017, you must report $7,000 of income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $7,000 becomes the cost basis in your ETH position.
 
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined?
This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 1 ETH on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for ETH and average the high and low prices for ETH on December 31, 2017, which is ($760.35 + $710.12) / 2 = $735.24. I would report $735.24 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 1 ETH I mined.
 
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return?
If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
 
12. If I receive ETH or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable?
Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
 
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable?
Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view.
Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
 
14. If I use ETH, BTC, or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction?
Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
 
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule?
Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your ETH at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
 
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US?
There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA.
A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year.
A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year.
The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
 
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency?
Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency).
Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient.
Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue.
An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
 
18. Where can I learn even more about cryptocurrency taxation?
Unchained Podcast: The Tax Rules That Have Crypto Users Aghast
IRS Notice 2014-21
Great reddit post from tax attorney Tyson Cross from 2014
 
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this?
Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software.
I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
 
20. Taxation is theft!
I can't help you there.
 
 
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one, this one, and this one, but I wanted to post my short summary guide on ethtrader which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of ETH and other cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you!
Regarding edits: I have made many edits to my post since I originally posted it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
 
Disclaimer:
The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
submitted by Nubboi to ethtrader [link] [comments]

Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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US Tax Guide for Cryptocurrencies

Introduction:  
Greetings, cryptax! Tax season is upon us, and in the next couple of months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As a tax professional, an Enrolled Agent, and a cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
 
 
1. Are cryptocurrency realized gains taxable?
Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell BTC, ETH, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
 
2. If I sell my BTC for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed?
Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the BTC, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
 
3. If I use my BTC to buy another cryptocurrency (XMR for example), is this a taxable transaction?
Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here.
This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your BTC for USD. The second transaction is buying the XMR with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts (or use a website such as bitcoin.tax or software to calculate it for you). For example, I buy 1 BTC for $8,000 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 BTC rises to $9,000. I transfer that 1 BTC to Bittrex and use it to buy 38 XMR. I have to report a capital gain of $1,000 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 38 XMR I purchased is $9,000.
 
4. If I use my BTC to buy another cryptocurrency, could that be considered a tax-free like-kind exchange?
Probably not. The new tax law says that like-kind exchanges only pertain to real estate transactions. This was done with Section 13303, which replaced “property” with “real property” for all of Section 1031 (page 72 near the bottom). My personal interpretation:
In 2018 and going forward, cryptocurrencies can definitely not be like-kind exchanged.
In 2017 and before, it is a very gray area. I personally am not taking the position that they can be like-kind exchanged, because if the IRS went after a taxpayer who did this, the IRS would probably win and the taxpayer would owe taxes, interest, and probably penalties on every single little gain made from trading one cryptocurrency for another.
Here is a great interpretation of why trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is probably not a like-kind transaction.
In my opinion, the biggest factor is that like-kind exchanges must be reported on Form 8824 and not just ignored. Therefore, if a taxpayer is claiming like-kind exchanges on crypto to crypto exchanges, he or she would have to fill out a Form 8824 for each individual transaction of crypto to crypto, which would be absolutely cumbersome if there are hundreds or thousands of such trades.
Another is that there has to be a Qualified Intermediary that facilitates a like-kind exchange. So, it's a more involved process, and that's why I think cryptocurrency cannot be like-kind exchanged.
Here is another article about like-kind exchanges.
Here is the American Institute of CPAs' letter to the IRS, dated June 10, 2016, asking them to release guidance on whether crypto to crypto can be like-kind exchanged or not. The IRS has not responded to the letter.
 
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency?
The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 BTC for $3,000 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 BTC for $18,000. Your realized gain would be $18,000 - $3,000 = $15,000. Since you held it for one year or less, the $15,000 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
 
6. Which BTC's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases?
The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first BTC at $3,000, a second BTC at $5,300, and a third BTC at $4,000. Later on, I sell one BTC for $8,000. I can use:
FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first BTC, $3,000, which would result in a gain of $5,000.
LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third BTC, $4,000, which would result in a gain of $4,000.
Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three BTC, $4,100, which would result in a gain of $3,900.
Specific identification - I can choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second BTC's cost basis, $5,300, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $2,700.
The IRS has not given any guidance on cost basis accounting methods for cryptocurrency, but I am taking the position that any method can be used, and that you can change your method at any time as you please (e.g. FIFO for one year, LIFO for another. Or, FIFO for the sale of a specific lot, then LIFO for the sale of another lot on the same day).
 
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return?
Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
 
8. What is the tax rate on my capital gains?
If long-term, the tax rate is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your ordinary income tax bracket. If short-term, the tax bracket you’ll be in will depend on your total income and deductions. The ordinary income tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% in 2017 and 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37% in 2018 and going forward.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 ordinary income tax brackets.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets.
Here is a detailed article on how the calculation of long-term capital gains tax work and how you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gains rate, if applicable.
 
9. If I mine BTC or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable?
Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $8,000 worth of BTC in 2017, you must report $8,000 of ordinary income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $8,000 becomes the cost basis in your BTC position.
 
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined?
This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 0.01 BTC on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for BTC and average the high and low prices for BTC on December 31, 2017, which is ($14,377.40 + $12,755.60) / 2 = $13,566.50. I would report $13,566.50 * 0.01 = $135.67 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 0.01 BTC I mined.
 
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return?
If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
 
12. If I receive BTC or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable?
Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
 
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable?
Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view.
Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
 
14. If I use BTC or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction?
Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
 
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule?
Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your BTC at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
 
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US?
There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA.
A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year.
A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year.
The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
 
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency?
Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency).
Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient.
Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue.
An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
 
18. Where can I learn even more about cryptocurrency taxation?
Unchained Podcast: The Tax Rules That Have Crypto Users Aghast
IRS Notice 2014-21
Great reddit post from tax attorney Tyson Cross from 2014
 
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this?
Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software.
I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
 
20. If I move my BTC from one exchange to another, or into a hard wallet, is this a taxable event?
No - you are not selling anything, so no gains are realized.
 
21. Where do I report cryptocurrency sales on my tax return?
The summary of your sales would reported on Schedule D on line 3 and/or line 10 depending on short-term or long-term. Supplemental Form 8949 must also be included with Box C or Box F checked depending on short-term or long-term. Form 8949 is where you must list each individual sale.
 
22. If coins become lost or inaccessible (e.g. lost or forgotten passphrase or thrown away hard drive), can I claim that as a loss? What about coins that have gotten stolen? What about losing money in investment or ICO scams (e.g. Bitconnect or Confido)?
These are really tricky questions. Unfortunately, the potential to claim such a loss against ordinary income is very low, especially with the new tax law. At the very least, capital losses can be claimed, but the deduction is capped at $3,000 per year against ordinary income with the rest carrying forward indefinitely.
The new tax law changed the casualty and theft loss to only apply to presidential disaster areas, so at least in the case of a loss passphrase, I think the answer is no for 2018 and going forward. For 2017, the answer is possibly yes. Here is an article on the subject if you are interested in reading more.
 
23. Taxation is theft!
Sorry, I can't help you there.
 
 
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one and this one, but I wanted to post my guide on cryptax which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you!
Regarding edits: I may make many edits to my post after I originally post it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
 
Disclaimer:
The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
submitted by Nubboi to cryptax [link] [comments]

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