Visa, MasterCard Cryptographic Credit Cards and Debit Cards: Do I Need to Get One?

Coinbase has launched its own debit card to facilitate the use of cryptocurrencies in payments and investments.


Some of the largest credit card companies on the planet are trying to make making money with Bitcoin easier than ever.

However, accountants and financial advisers say CNBC has a major problem. Each time you swipe one of these crypto cards, a “taxable event” is logged.

“One thing many people are unaware of is that buying coffee and all kinds of consumer goods using cryptocurrencies can result in capital gains events,” said Shehan Chandrasekera, Certified Accountant and Head. Stated. The tax strategy of, a digital currency tax software company that helps clients track cryptography across virtual wallet addresses and manage their corresponding tax obligations.

There is always a difference between the amount paid for the cost-based cryptocurrency and the market value when using it. The difference can cause income capital gains taxes in addition to other taxes you have to pay, such as sales tax.

However, many do not seem to care about tax headaches.

Visa, which has partnered with Circle, BlockFi and Coinbase, will bring over $ 1 billion of cryptocurrencies to CNBC in July through cards crypto-linked by consumers around the world during the first six months of 2021. And said it was spent on services.

Meanwhile, this summer, MasterCard will launch a credit card with a crypto exchange Gemini co-founded by billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

The perks are certainly fascinating. With no annual fee, you will get up to 4% crypto reward for every purchase you make. In addition, it provides a simple off-ramp for crypto cash.

But perhaps the biggest reason these tax effects don’t depress people is related to the fact that they don’t have the clue that they pile up tax bills every time they use their cards.

Some people are like, “Oh, I don’t sell my crypto, so I don’t have to pay capital gains tax.” But that’s completely wrong. “

Coffee purchase is a “taxable event”

The IRS treats cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as assets. In other words, cryptocurrencies are taxed in the same way as stocks and real estate.

“Every time we receive, sell or exchange cryptocurrencies, we need to recognize our income,” said Shivani Jain, a certified accountant and partner of accounting, tax and advisory firm SaxLLP. Stated.

“If you make a payment using your Coinbase card, you’re considered to have sold the cryptocurrency and you’re taxed,” she said.

The government basically says that if you buy something in cryptocurrency, it’s as if you liquidated your cryptocurrency, just as if you sold other assets. .. The IRS also doesn’t care how small the transaction is – it’s still taxable.

“There is no minimum capital gain. For microtransactions, it also applies to gains of one penny or less than one penny,” said Nyradia Grawar of the Cryptocurrency Policy Think Tank Coin Center.

Agrawal said the IRS is unlikely to ask for a penny after you, but if you can’t track it with a penny-equivalent profit when you buy coffee, you’re technically compliant. It means not as a moment of profit.

Experts tell CNBC that it is nearly impossible for Bitcoin to function like the cash intended by these rules, and it is nearly impossible to fully comply.

“When it comes to the adoption of cryptocurrency consumers as a payment method, the current treatment of property is very bad,” said Chandra Sekera. “And it’s your responsibility to keep track of taxes. Keep a good record of cost base and selling prices.”

Mr. Agrawal described a solution to create a “minimal exemption” for cryptocurrency transactions, similar to the one proposed in the cryptocurrency fair law introduced in the House of Representatives last year. De minimis tax exemption means that the set amount of capital gains (perhaps up to $ 200) for crypto-based transactions is excluded from the capital gains reporting rules.


There are some loopholes to avoid paying taxes every time you swipe a crypto card.

For example, some cards are associated with the user’s holding of stablecoin. Stablecoin is a specific subset of cryptocurrencies that have a fixed value in real-world assets, such as fiat currencies like the US dollar and commodities like gold.

“There is no capital gains tax because it is fixed at the US dollar,” explained Chandra Sekera.

There can be a few pennies of daily fluctuations, but Chandra Sekera says it doesn’t matter in the end because it tends to be balanced. “Some days you’re spending $ 0.98 and some days you’re spending $ 1.02, so every year it’s like zeroing things out,” he said.

Cryptographic rewards also provide another way to counteract some of these capital gains taxes.

With any of these cards, you can earn up to 4% on the crypto rewards you choose. These crypto fees can be more than just fiat rewards like the US dollar. Also, as with most card-based rewards programs, the amount you earn may not be taxable.

“Currently, the IRS has no guidance on how crypto fees are taxed on spending, but when you look at how the IRS treats credit card rewards, they are rebates or You can see that it is treated as a discount and is usually not taxed. “Jane said.

That means, tentatively, it makes sense to treat crypto fees in a similar way, according to Jain, until more IRS guidance is available.

Chandrasekera agrees that crypto fees are probably not taxable, as crypto fees are considered a discount on the selling price of what you buy, not the consumer’s working income.

And, of course, trading can be a capital loss. This is the flip side of capital gains obligations. Chandrasekera states that these types of crypto debit card transactions actually lead to tax cuts.

Again, it is the user’s responsibility to calculate these losses. This can be tedious as it has to be calculated for each crypto card transaction.

Experts told CNBC that they were ultimately skeptical about whether crypto cards were worth the accounting acrobatics needed. However, the data seems to indicate that users are stacking these cards, at least for now.

Visa, MasterCard Cryptographic Credit Cards and Debit Cards: Do I Need to Get One?

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