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The Importance of Filing Taxes as a Day Trader


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As a young adult, it can be easy to overlook the importance of filing taxes, especially if you don't have a steady income or are busy with school. However, if you have been day trading cryptocurrency and have made profits, it is crucial to file your taxes correctly and on time. Failure to do so can result in penalties and even legal troubles in the future.

Understanding the Situation

Let's take a closer look at the situation presented in the question. A 20-year-old individual, who we will call John, started day trading cryptocurrency in 2021 with a couple hundred dollars. John made a profit of $1935 from his trades, but he recently discovered that his cost basis (the initial value of his assets) was not reported, and his proceeds totaled around $31,000. As a college student without a steady income, John never filed taxes. However, now that he has graduated and has a job, he plans to file taxes for the first time. John has not been contacted by the IRS about this matter, but he is unsure if he will face any issues in the future and how to fix the situation.

The Tax Implications of Day Trading

Day trading is a type of trading where an individual buys and sells assets, such as stocks or cryptocurrency, within a single day. This type of trading often results in numerous transactions and can generate significant profits or losses. For tax purposes, day trading falls under the category of capital gains or losses, which are taxed differently than regular income.

When it comes to cryptocurrency, the IRS considers it as property rather than currency. This means that any gains or losses from buying, selling, or trading cryptocurrency are subject to capital gains taxes. If John had sold his assets for a profit, as stated in the question, he would need to report the gains as income on his tax return.

In addition to reporting profits, day traders are also required to report their cost basis, which is the initial value of their assets. This is essential because it helps determine the actual profit or loss from the trades. In the case of John, his cost basis was never reported, leading to a discrepancy between his reported profit and the actual proceeds from his trades.

The Consequences of Not Filing Taxes

As mentioned earlier, failure to file taxes as a day trader can result in penalties and legal troubles. The IRS has become more vigilant in monitoring cryptocurrency transactions, and any discrepancies in reporting can raise red flags and trigger an audit. If an audit reveals that taxes were not filed or were filed incorrectly, John could face penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes, which can add up quickly.

In extreme cases, not filing taxes or evading taxes can result in criminal charges. While this may seem unlikely, it is essential to understand the potential consequences and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation before it escalates.

How to Fix the Situation

If you are in a similar situation as John and have not filed taxes as a day trader, the first step is to consult with a tax advisor. They can help you understand your tax obligations and guide you through the process of rectifying any discrepancies in your reporting. It is crucial to act as soon as possible, as waiting can only lead to more significant issues and penalties.

It is also essential to gather all the necessary documents, such as trading statements, to accurately report your profits and cost basis. Depending on the complexity of your trades, you may also need to hire a tax professional to help you prepare your tax return correctly.

The Importance of Staying Compliant

In addition to fixing the current situation, it is crucial to understand the importance of staying compliant with tax laws as a day trader. This means accurately reporting your profits and cost basis every tax year and paying any taxes owed on time. It may also be beneficial to consult with a tax advisor or professional to ensure you are meeting all your tax obligations correctly.


In conclusion, filing taxes as a day trader is crucial, regardless of your age or income level. Failure to do so can result in penalties, legal troubles, and a lot of stress. If you find yourself in a similar situation as John, it is essential to take immediate action and seek guidance from a tax advisor. With proper planning and compliance, you can avoid any potential issues and focus on growing your day trading profits.