Crypto Case Study: Ira Kleiman v. Craig Wright and Why Inheritance Tax Could Spell Trouble for Bitcoin Investors
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When you pass away, transferring your bitcoins onto a relative could leave them with a hefty tax bill. By law, Bitcoin is regarded as property and not currency.
Therefore, Bitcoin is eligible for capital gains tax as well as inheritance tax, which must be paid by the receiver. You could even end up paying as much as 40% of the value of the received Bitcoin as tax.
The new guidelines from the IRS and the thousands of letters the agency has sent to crypto investors goes to show that cryptocurrency taxes should not be taken lightly. While a lot of Bitcoin is lost when owners die, the little that does see new life is usually taxed if its value is above a certain threshold. This is known as the inheritance tax (or ‘death tax’).
So, what is inheritance tax exactly? Simply put, inheritance tax is the tax paid by an individual on money or property they have inherited. This should not be confused with estate tax, although in some countries, the tax is the same, and the term is used interchangeably. Inheritance tax could be a major problem for you if there is a chance you might be getting Bitcoin anytime soon, say, from a long lost relative.
In this article we look at an ongoing case that highlights the troubles of inheritance tax for Bitcoin investors.
The Kleiman Case
Let’s talk about the court battle between the Australian inventor and computer scientist, Craig Wright, and his late partner’s brother, Ira Kleiman. The court case is centered on the alleged theft of $10 billion by Wright from his late business partner, Dave Kleiman. With a judgment in Ira’s favor, Craig must pay half that sum or 500,000 in BTC. This sounds pretty straightforward a ruling, but there’s a catch: inheritance tax.
Ira is due to receive $5 billion AUD, and inheritance tax on crypto in Australia is a whopping 40%. The only way Ira can avoid having to sell a huge chunk of BTC to pay for this tax is if he has $2 billion just lying around – that’s ‘billion’ with a ‘B’. If he doesn’t have that much cash, he would have to sell a massive amount of BTC, which some have said could crash the market.
This whole situation shines a light on the problems Bitcoin investors may face if they have plans to pass their coins on to family members. You would need to know the law and how it applies to Bitcoin transferred upon your death. Different countries around the world use different taxation methods when it comes to inheritance. Depending on where you are located, you will need to familiarize yourself with the laws and how to navigate them.
How does inheritance tax apply to Bitcoin?
When you receive Bitcoin as an inheritance, you should declare the value as it was at the time you received it and pay any applicable taxes. Many people find that taxation of cryptocurrencies is pretty uncharted waters, and it is best to seek advice before you dive in. The inheritance laws in the US are quite different from the laws in Australia. Researching in-depth how these countries and corresponding agencies behave in regard to inheritance tax is a wise move.
In most countries, including the US, all you really have to worry about is capital gains tax. In the Eastern part of the world, very few countries have enacted laws to tax cryptocurrencies and even fewer have enforced them. China which is arguably the biggest market for cryptocurrencies has also been dipping its toes in cryptocurrencies with an eye on stablecoins. As regulations become clearer, there are likely to be more stringent laws in place to tackle the issue of taxation.
The Bottom Line
With all the taxation hurdles you already have to jump over while alive, recent developments now show that you may need to jump even more after passing away. Passing on your digital assets is serious business, and you need to understand the taxation laws surrounding inheritance in your region. You should fully understand the regulations guiding inheritance and your Bitcoin when planning your ‘departure’.
Referring back to the Kleiman case, Ira will likely have to face the tax problems associated with inheritance. Bitcoin is very volatile, and value can be hard to gauge. It is easy to see that having Bitcoin or any other type of coin or cryptocurrency can lead you into tax mistakes if you aren’t careful.
On a final note, it is important that you are aware of the inheritance tax law in your region, depending on what your plan for your Bitcoin is. A crypto CPA would be able to properly set up your estate and protect your loved ones when you have passed on. We hope you have learned more about inheritance tax and how it affects your Bitcoin from this article. Don’t forget to share this article with others who might find it interesting.