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The IRS Just Sent Out This Urgent Warning to All Taxpayers

The agency has an important new alert ahead of the tax deadline.

The pressure is on as taxpayers now have less than a month to file their taxes this season. Most people have until April 18 to submit their 2021 tax return and pay any owed taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid potential fees and penalties. But if you've been waiting closer to the deadline to file, you're hardly alone—and the IRS knows it. In fact, the agency is still issuing warnings for the 2022 tax season, and you might want to take it all in before you get your taxes squared away. Read on to find out what the IRS is alerting all taxpayers about ahead of the tax deadline.

RELATED: The IRS Warns You Could Get Fined for Forgetting This on Your Taxes.

All taxpayers must answer a question about virtual currency on their return.

Man Filling In The Tax Form

On March 18, the IRS issued a new alert warning all taxpayers that they must answer a section about virtual currency on their 2021 tax refund this year, even if they did not deal with any digital transactions. According to the agency, there is a question on the top of all versions of Form 1040 that asks, "At any time during 2021, did you receive, sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any financial interest in any virtual currency?"

"All taxpayers filing Form 1040, Form 1040-SR or Form 1040-NR must check one box answering either 'Yes' or 'No' to the virtual currency question," the IRS explained. "The question must be answered by all taxpayers, not just taxpayers who engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency in 2021."

The IRS says you can get fined for not reporting certain virtual currency transactions.

A young woman sits at a desk late at night and tries to work on her taxes. She looks discouraged as she reads a W-9 and other paperwork. Her laptop is open in the background.

According to the IRS, virtual currency is just a digital representation of value that operates like "real" currency, such as coin and paper money. "Virtual currency transactions are taxable by law just like transactions in any other property," the agency warned. "Taxpayers transacting in virtual currency may have to report those transactions on their tax returns."

This means you could be penalized for not reporting certain exchanges or payments involving virtual currency. This issue has been causing taxpayers trouble for some time now. The IRS reported in 2019 that it had to mail educational letters to more than 10,000 taxpayers who either failed to report transactions involving virtual currency or reported them incorrectly.

"Taxpayers who did not report transactions involving virtual currency or who reported them incorrectly may, when appropriate, be liable for tax, penalties and interest. In some cases, taxpayers could be subject to criminal prosecution," the agency warned in an alert that year.

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There are multiple reasons you may be required to report your involvement with virtual currencies.

Shot of a mature woman using a digital tablet while going through paperwork at home

According to the IRS, there are many common transactions in virtual currency that could require taxpayers to check the "Yes" box for the question on their 2021 tax return. This includes if you received virtual currency as a payment for goods or services provided, or even received it for free but it did not "qualify as a bona fide gift." The exchange of virtual currency might require you to respond "Yes" as well, and this includes an exchange for property, goods, or services, or the exchange or trade of virtual currency for another virtual currency.

"If a taxpayer received any virtual currency as compensation for services or disposed of any virtual currency that they held for sale to customers in a trade or business, they must report the income as they would report other income of the same type," the IRS explained.

But certain taxpayers who dealt with virtual currency could be excused from reporting it.

Man working on taxes

You might be able to mark "No" on your tax return even if you were involved in virtual currency in some way, however. "Taxpayers who merely owned virtual currency at any time in 2021 can check the 'No' box when they have not engaged in any transactions involving virtual currency during the year," the IRS explained.

According to the agency, you can also check "No" if your virtual currency activities were limited to certain scenarios. This includes holding digital money in your own wallet or account or transferring it between your own wallets or accounts. You might be excused from reporting your transactions even if you purchased virtual currency as well—if you did so using real currency. That means you're off the hook for "purchases using real currency electronic platforms such as PayPal and Venmo," the IRS explained.

RELATED: The IRS Now Won't Let You Do This Until After April 18.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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