Michelle Legge
By Michelle LeggeHead of Crypto Tax Education
Updated Jun 7, 2024
This article has been fact checked and reviewed as per our editorial policy.

How are Ethereum gas fees taxed?

Anytime you use the Ethereum blockchain to make a transaction, you’ll pay a gas fee in gwei. But they might come with a tax bill.

Read next: Ethereum gas fees guide

How are gas fees taxed? Are they tax deductible?

It’s good news when it comes to gas fees because in some instances - gas fees are tax deductible. In others - the guidance is less clear.

Tax offices haven’t given specific guidance on gas fees, but many of them have given guidance on transaction fees in general. All this to say - whether your gas fee is tax deductible depends on the specific transaction you’re making. Let’s break it down.

Banner with Koinly logo and text Calculate Your Crypto Taxes

Capital gains and cost basis

Cryptocurrencies aren’t actually seen as a currency in almost all countries. Instead, they’re seen as an asset - just like a stock. Because they’re seen as an asset, this makes them subject to Capital Gains Tax. Anytime you sell, swap, spend, or gift (in most countries) an asset, you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax on any ‘gain’ or profit you make from the transaction.

So how do you figure out how much you pay?

You figure out the cost basis. The cost basis is whatever it cost you to acquire an asset plus any transaction fees.

An infographic with a calculator and sum explaining how to calculate crypto cost basis, presented by Koinly, a crypto tax calculatorWhen you later sell, swap, spend, or gift the asset, you can figure out how much you’ll pay tax on by subtracting your cost basis from the price you sold the asset for. This will reveal whether you made a capital gain or a capital loss. You’ll only pay tax on the capital gain you made.

An infographic highlighting information on how to calculate a crypto gain, presented by Koinly, a crypto tax softwareThe tax laws around what fees can be added to a cost basis vary. This is why it’ll depend on the type of transaction you’re making as to whether gas fees are tax deductible. Let’s look at common transactions you’ll pay gas on and whether they’d be tax deductible.

Buying, selling, and trading crypto gas fees

This ones pretty straightforward because these fees are all associated with a transaction - whether that's a purchase, sale, or trade. Capital Gains Tax rules allow for you to add transaction fees to the cost basis of an asset. So whenever you buy, sell, or trade crypto on the Ethereum blockchain and pay a gas fee - you can add this to your cost base. This will reduce the amount of tax you owe on a given asset by giving a more realistic picture of what it actually cost you.

EXAMPLE

You buy 1 ETH for $3,000. The gas fee is $100. Your current cost basis is $3,000 + $100 = $3100.

You later sell your 1 ETH for $4,000. The gas fee is another $100. Add this to your cost basis so $3,200. Now calculate your capital gain.

$4,000 - $3,200 = $800. You’d pay tax on $800.

Yield farming, staking, and airdrop rewards gas fees

There are lots of ways to earn rewards on the Ethereum blockchain through crypto DeFi apps. For example:

But in most instances, you’ll pay a gas fee whenever you want to claim your reward - whether that's by adding or removing your liquidity pool tokens, or withdrawing reward tokens when you're no longer using a protocol.

Whether or not you can add this to your cost basis depends on how the transaction is viewed from a tax perspective. For example, in many countries like the UK, adding and removing liquidity is seen as a crypto to crypto swap, as you receive LP tokens in return. In these instances, as you're making a capital gains disposal, you may well be able to add related gas fees to your cost basis.

However, in other instances depending on the protocol you're using, you may be receiving new tokens as a reward - like COMP tokens. When you want to withdraw these COMP tokens, you may pay a gas fee. However, these tokens likely aren't seen as a capital gain. As you're earning new tokens, they're more likely to be viewed as income in most countries. So your cost basis is the fair market value at the point you received the asset.

So in these instances, it is highly likely that gas fees would not be tax deductible as you cannot add them to your cost basis.

However, if you later went on to sell, swap, or spend these assets, you could add any gas fees involved in those transactions to your overall cost basis for the asset.

Transfer gas fees

Sometimes when you transfer assets between wallets, you’ll pay a gas fee. However, the Capital Gains Tax guidance in most countries is quite clear that you can only add fees associated with acquiring or disposing of an asset to your cost basis. You’re not doing this when you make a transfer.

There isn’t any clear guidance on this yet from any tax office. So you can choose to take a conservative or a more aggressive approach to your crypto taxes:

  • A conservative approach would be to treat this as a taxable event. You’re spending ETH - like on a good or a service - so it’s subject to Capital Gains Tax.

  • A more measured approach is to claim it as spent, but not recognize any capital gain or loss from the transaction. Simply deduct the fee from your the overall amount of the asset you were transferring.

  • Finally, an aggressive approach would be to add it to your cost basis.

We recommend a conservative approach to transfer fees as other approaches may not stand up to scrutiny by tax authorities.

Can you use gas fees to offset income?

No. Individuals can’t offset expenses against their income. However, if you’re viewed to be trading as a crypto business due to the volume or activities you’re conducting - you may be able to deduct gas fees as business expenses. You should look up your specific business crypto tax laws in your country or speak to a tax advisor before doing this.

What about tax on failed gas fees?

Sometimes transactions fail on the Ethereum blockchain for a variety of reasons, for example, if you didn’t include sufficient gas to cover the transaction fee. In these instances, the ETH you pay isn’t refunded.

If you’ve lost ETH to gas fees, you could recognize this as a capital loss. You have spent ETH on goods or services, which means you need to calculate any resulting capital gain or loss. You would subtract your cost basis from the price you disposed of the asset for, which in this instance is $0 - so you’ll always have a capital loss in these instances.

You can later offset your capital losses against your capital gains to pay less Capital Gains Tax.

Calculate gas taxes with Koinly

Make crypto taxes simple with Koinly. Koinly can help you calculate your crypto taxes - including the taxation of any gas fees. When you import your transaction history to Koinly, it automatically adds transaction fees to your cost and calculates your cost basis and any subsequent gains or losses.

For transfer fees, we take a conservative approach by default and treat these as disposals. However, you can change this in the settings by turning ‘treat transfer fees as disposals’ off.

Koinly crypto tax calculator - treat transfer fees as disposals setting on KoinlyKoinly makes crypto tax easy. Get started for free today.

Summary

  • Gas refers to the fee you pay anytime you make a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain.

  • The gas fee is given to users who validate and process transactions on the network.

  • Gas is measured in Gwei - a denomination of ETH.

  • Gas prices fluctuation due to supply and demand.

  • Gas fees may be tax deductible - it depends on the transaction you're making.

  • If you're buying, selling or trading crypto - you can add the gas fee to your cost basis.

  • If you're earning rewards and paying gas fees - you cannot add the gas fee to your cost basis.

  • Gas fees from transfers have no clear tax guidance, but we recommend you treat it as a taxable event.

Banner with Koinly logo and text: Get Your Crypto Tax Report

Disclaimer
The information on this website is for general information only. It should not be taken as constituting professional advice from Koinly. Koinly is not a financial adviser. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the website information relates to your unique circumstances. Koinly is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this website.