Virtual currencies like bitcoin will be taxed like property—not currency, the Internal Revenue Service said today. The IRS says bitcoin is not legal tender, meaning you can't use it to pay your taxes. However, if you receive wages in bitcoin, you have to pay taxes on it just like you would if you got paid in dollars. The IRS issued a series of 16 questions and answers to clarify the tax treatment of virtual currencies like bitcoin. In general, the IRS says it will apply the same rules that govern other barter transactions.
If you receive wages in bitcoin, they would be taxed at their fair market value at the time you were paid, the IRS said. If you use bitcoins to pay for goods or services, the vendor must report the income, using the fair market value of the bitcoins at the time of the transaction. For investors, bitcoins will be treated like other commodities, the IRS said. If they increase in value, you have to pay capital gains taxes after you sell them. If they lose value, you can recognize a capital loss. (Read more IRS stories.)