Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Six individuals each hold a shiny coin in their hand, attempting to deposit them into a piggy bank - Crowdfunding

Tax Consequences Of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has become a popular way for individuals and businesses to raise capital. But with this new approach to financing comes a question: how are the funds raised taxed? This article explores the tax implications for both contributors and businesses utilizing crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo.

Gifts vs. Charitable Donations vs. Business Ventures: Understanding the Purpose

The tax treatment of crowdfunding campaigns hinges on the campaign’s purpose. Here’s a breakdown of the three main categories:

Gifts: When funds are raised for personal reasons (e.g., medical bills, funeral expenses), they are generally considered gifts. These contributions are typically tax-free for the recipient, but there are limitations for contributors. If a contributor donates more than $17,000 (adjusted for inflation annually) to a single beneficiary, they might be subject to gift tax filing.

Charitable Donations: For contributions to qualified charities, proper documentation is crucial to claim a charitable deduction. Contributors must obtain a written acknowledgement from the charity detailing the amount donated, whether any goods or services were received in exchange, and a statement regarding intangible religious benefits (if applicable).

Business Ventures: Things get more complex when it comes to crowdfunding for business ventures. Here, two scenarios arise:

  • No Ownership Interest Given: If contributors receive minimal rewards (e.g., merchandise), the funds raised are considered taxable income for the business.
  • Ownership Interest Provided: When contributors receive partial ownership (stocks or partnership interests), the funds are treated as capital contributions and are not taxable to the business. However, the amount becomes the contributor’s tax basis in the investment, impacting future capital gains taxes.

Important Note: The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) regulates crowdfunding offerings involving ownership interests. Businesses seeking over $5 million within a 12-month period or exceeding specific investor contribution limits need to register their offering with the SEC.

Crowdfunding and the IRS: Are They Watching?

The short answer is, maybe. The IRS relies on third-party transaction companies (payment processors) to report crowdfunding activity. These companies are required to issue a Form 1099-K if the total amount processed for a single campaign surpasses a certain threshold (currently $600 per year). However, it’s unclear if all third-party processors will comply with this de minimis rule.

Avoiding Crowdfunding Scams: Protecting Your Investment

The excitement of crowdfunding shouldn’t overshadow caution. Before contributing, research the campaign and the people behind it. Look for red flags like:

  • Lack of previous campaigns or unsuccessful campaign history.
  • The fundraiser being present on multiple platforms, potentially aiming to maximize fundraising and disappear.

Remember, crowdfunding is an investment, and responsible research is key to protecting your hard-earned money.

Conclusion: Crowdfunding Can Be Rewarding, But Knowledge is Power

Crowdfunding offers a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals to raise capital. However, understanding the tax implications is crucial for both contributors and businesses involved. By familiarizing yourself with the different categories (gifts, charitable donations, and business ventures) and the potential involvement of the IRS and SEC, you can navigate the crowdfunding landscape with confidence. Remember, for specific tax advice related to your crowdfunding campaign, consulting a tax professional is always recommended.

JS Morlu LLC is a top-tier accounting firm based in Woodbridge, Virginia, with a team of highly experienced and qualified CPAs and business advisors. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive accounting, tax, and business advisory services to clients throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and the surrounding regions. With over a decade of experience, we have cultivated a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and aspirations. We recognize that our clients seek more than just value-added accounting services; they seek a trusted partner who can guide them towards achieving their business goals and personal financial well-being.
Talk to us || What our clients says about us