What kind of taxes I would need to pay for receiving bitcoin gift (>100k USD) from foreign relative (Russia -> USA)?

As I understand, I would not need to pay any tax at the receiving date, as gifts from foreign relatives are not taxable.

Selling those bitcoins is completely separate event from IRS perspective and requires cost basis to calculate taxes. It makes sense, that cost basis would be transferred over, if both persons are US residents, but it doesn't really make sense if property is from foreign person and is not related to US in any ways.

Would cost basis of my bitcoins be FMV at gift date? Or I would need to transfer cost basis over my relative? Would I need to pay taxes on a full price, if there's no proofs of cost basis from donor?

2 Answers 2


I do not mean any sarcasm here. When asked the best way to gift appreciated assets to a loved one, whether it be the Apple shares bought decades ago, or the Bitcoin bought a few years back, the answer is to die and leave it to the beneficiary. The asset gets a stepped up basis.

It's off-topic to debate the merits or fairness of tax code, the rules we use when answering here. In your case, the basis follows the gift. If there are no records, and you are audited, the IRS might just assume those coins were mined or bought for pennies. At the same time, the low basis implies a 'long term' gain on the asset held over a year. I believe (read that, 'I think, but not 100% sure') that applies to B**coin as well.

  • It turns out there's a huge difference is the IRS says the item is US-Situs, or not... what a drama
    – Fattie
    Feb 7, 2021 at 15:03
  • 1
    Does this render my own answer incorrect? Or does it provide extra background? (If I am wrong, I’d delete, and glad to be set straight) Feb 7, 2021 at 16:05
  • TBC I'm not sure - just adding to the info !!! :O
    – Fattie
    Feb 7, 2021 at 17:56
  • 2
    Thanks a lot for the answer! I've reached out to CPA company in parallel and would happy to give updates on my case here. Feb 8, 2021 at 5:51

I was amazed to learn that indeed, if you get a (NON-money) property gift from another US person, indeed you "GET" the capital gains tax!

"when you give away your property, the tax basis (or the original cost) of the property for the giver becomes the tax basis for the recipient"



It would seem that in general, a gift from someone overseas is wholly non-taxable to you in the US


ASIDE: note that YOU MUST REPORT IT or you will be fined 25% of the amount.


If it is a "US - Situs" item, they will f' you. Here's a gem:


"Danger: It is not recommended that an offshore relative wire funds directly into your U.S. accounts. There is a risk the IRS or state tax authority could argue that for the millisecond that the transfer bounced around in U.S. Cyberspace the government had in rem jurisdiction and assert a transfer tax."

Based on that opinion-piece for a tax practice, it's entirely possible that the US will/has declared that bitcoin is US Situs (since almost all bc processing is on US hardware - anyway, they could just declare it); if so you're screwed, it would be like your foreign relative giving you a house which is in the US which she owns.


Would it be worth it for Russian Aunty to simply change it to dollars, and then gift you the dollars? You can then buy bc if you like, or whatever. If it's a dollar gift you are home free.

  • @PeteBecker - for sure, I reached for the wrong word there.
    – Fattie
    Feb 7, 2021 at 16:05
  • Thanks a lot Fattie! Yes, it was indeed much simpler to cash it out and wire to me, but I've already got the Bitcoins and cashed it out to my bank account. I'm mostly trying to understand tax consequences now. I don't believe that Bitcoin could be declared as US situs, but will see. Feb 8, 2021 at 5:54
  • It's a fascinating question, and we will need someone with really detailed and fresh knowledge of that problem!! I hope someone helps :O
    – Fattie
    Feb 8, 2021 at 13:35

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