The IRS requested comments on its intention to treat certain nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as collectibles under Code Sec. 408(m). If an NFT is treated as a collectible, an IRA’s acquisition of the NFT would be treated as a distribution equal to the cost of the NFT. In addition, treating NFTs as collectibles would affect the long-term capital gains tax rate under Code Sec. 1(h). For this purpose, the IRS defines an NFT as a unique digital identifier that is recorded using distributed ledger technology and may be used to certify authenticity and ownership of an associated right or asset, such as a digital file, digital music, the right to attend a ticketed event, or ownership of a physical item.

Pending the issuance of the anticipated guidance, the IRS intends to determine whether an NFT is a collectible by analyzing whether the NFT‘s associated right or asset is a Code Sec. 408(m) collectible. Under this “look-through analysis,” if the NFT‘s associated right or asset is a Code Sec. 408(m) collectible (for example, an NFT that certifies ownership of a gem), then the NFT is treated as a collectible. Similarly, if the NFT‘s associated right or asset is not a collectible (for example, a right to use a plot of land in a virtual environment), then the NFT is not treated as a collectible. If the NFT‘s associated right or asset is a digital file, the IRS would apply the look-through analysis by asking whether the digital file constitutes a “work of art” under Code Sec. 408(m)(2)(A). If it does, the NFT would be a Code Sec. 408(m) collectible.

The Treasury and IRS requested comments on any aspect of NFTs affecting an NFT‘s treatment as a Code Sec. 408(m) collectible. In particular, the IRS solicited comments on the definition of NFTs, how the look-through analysis might be applied to an NFT with more than one associated right or asset, and what factors to consider in determining whether a digital file associated with an NFT is a “work of art.”