For forks like BTC → BCH, the general consensus is that BCH is treated as income of the "found money" variety (as opposed to something akin to a stock split) and should be entered on Form 1040 Line 21.

How exactly does one determine the fair market value when the coins were held by an exchange that didn't make them immediately available? This value will influence how much income there was and also establish the cost basis for future sales.

If an owner controlled their private keys then the answer seems simple: it's whatever the currency traded at on the day of the fork.

If an owner didn't control their private keys then it's less clear. Is the FMV computed on the day of the fork or on the day the exchange released the coins? It could be said that the exchange "set apart" the coins on the day of the fork. However, it could also be said that the coins were not yet "clearly realized" until the coins were actually released.

Even though the fork and the eventual release of coins happened in the same tax year (for some exchanges), FMV could be wildly different due to volatility.

1 Answer 1


Your link states the case for when the owner wasn't able to access them until a later day:

For users who cannot claim their BCH, the hard fork is not yet taxable income. This is because the accession to wealth has not been clearly realized. These users will have taxable income in the future when their BCH is made available to them, equal to the value of BCH at such time.

  • So in the analogous situation with the car, if there was a sudden Tulip-mania level interest in that car increasing it's value over the weekend before the keys could be delivered, that would increase the amount of income of the recipient?
    – colithium
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 18:06

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