Do like-kind exemptions apply for cryptocurrency trades?

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A like-kind exchange allows you to swap property with someone else without having to pay taxes as long as the property being exchanged is “like kind” (i.e. similar). Typically these rules are meant to apply to real estate transactions, however there is some debate about whether they apply to other types of transactions such as crypto:crypto trades.

Most experts believe that crypto:crypto trades do not qualify for like-kind exchanges, and this is also the conservative approach so it is the philosophy we follow as well. Specifically every like-kind exchange does not apply by default; rather every transaction needs to be filed on an IRS Form 8824. Yes that means every single crypto:crypto transaction would need to be completed on it’s own Form 8824. On top of that, the IRS requires the use of a Qualified Intermediary for multi-party like-kind exchanges (such as a transaction on a centralized crypto exchange). To the best of our knowledge, no centralized exchanges complete the necessary paperwork to be a Qualified Intermediary. This argument may not apply to decentralized peer-to-peer exchanges or in-person transactions, however even in those cases it seems like a large stretch to apply the like-kind framework. Additionally, in 2018, the IRS has clarified that like-kind exchanges only apply to real estate (i.e. not cryptocurrency).