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Taxation of Airdrops in Germany

What does airdrop mean?

Basically, it's simply a matter of distributing certain tokens for free. A holder of a cryptocurrency receives further units of cryptocurrency without any action on their part. This means that they do not have to pay for the cryptocurrency received by airdrop.

One of the best known and at the same time allegedly one of the largest airdrop programs was the 2018 airdrop of the Stellar Lumen Token (XLM).

Technical requirements for receiving airdrops

In order to receive airdrops, one needs a suitable wallet, which should be able to receive as many different cryptocurrencies as possible. Wallets that work on the basis of the Ethereum blockchain have proven to be particularly practical, because many airdrops are backed by ERC-20 tokens based on this blockchain. Thus, for example, a credit of cryptocurrencies can be issued to the wallet on which the beneficiary holds a certain amount of the cryptocurrency ether (ETH).

It is also possible to get access to a new cryptocurrency by proving that you hold a certain amount of cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin) on another blockchain. The cryptocurrencies issued by airdrop are either created directly in the wallet of the recipient or are transferred from a pool of the issuer to the recipient wallet.

Why are airdrops given away?

The reasons for giving away cryptocurrencies are numerous. Often it is a matter of drawing attention to a new cryptocurrency. For instance, many startups use airdrops to make their cryptocurrency more widely known. Crypto exchanges such as Binance also use airdrops to reward customers for their loyalty. This is more or less a bonus program.

Are airdrops legitimate?

The airdrops, which a user gets on a wallet, on which he holds an appropriate cryptocurrency (like e.g. Ether), are safe. However, caution is required if the user would like to participate in an airdrop and is required to give too many personal details or even share the private key to do so.

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Crypto tax consulting at WINHELLER means:

  • Clarification of all unclear issues
  • Reconstruction of lost trade details
  • Advice on the choice of FiFo or LiFo
  • Timely submission of the income tax return
  • Full communication with the tax office by our experts

You need support and want to avoid tax evasion? We look forward to hearing from you at +49 (0)69 76 75 77 80 or

Are airdrops subject to taxation in Germany?

In the context of an airdrop, the user receives cryptocurrencies without having purchased them or provided any other service for them. The cryptocurrencies are not transferred to the user from the legal sphere of a third party. Rather, they come into "existence" only in the user's assets. The cryptocurrency is created directly in the wallets of the users, and the wallets must fulfill certain criteria. In this respect, airdrops resemble a lottery win or a chance find (so-called windfall profits).

In the absence of a purchase transaction, taxation in accordance with Section 23 (1) No. 2 of the German Income Tax Act (EStG) is not possible in the case of a subsequent sale. If the user does not provide services, other income as defined by Section 22 No. 3 EStG is also not applicable. Therefore the sale of airdrops is tax-free.

The German Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) takes a somewhat differentiated view. It considers taxation under Section 22 No. 3 of the German Income Tax Act (EStG) to always be the case if the investor has provided consideration in connection with the receipt of the airdrop (so-called exchange of services). It is sufficient for this if, for example, the user had to disclose personal data about himself in advance. As a result, however, taxation is unlikely to occur in most cases, as airdrops generally have no tax-relevant market value at the time of receipt. In these cases, the value of the coins received is set at EUR 0.

In cases of an exchange of services in connection with airdrops, however, the BMF affirms an acquisition transaction. Therefore, in the case of a subsequent sale, Section 23 (1) sentence 1 no. 2 EStG is relevant. According to the administrative opinion, the profit from the resale is therefore taxable within the one-year period on the basis of the personal income tax rate.

Our consulting services regarding airdrops

We support you with

  • the legal assessment of whether your airdrops are to be considered as a tax-free inflow or as a gift
  • the representation of the tax assessment vis-à-vis the tax authorities in case of dispute, and
  • the preparation of your German tax returns and management of your crypto portfolios (in cooperation with Accointing).

Your attorney for the taxation of airdrops in Germany

Are you looking for advice on the tax consequences of airdrops? Our experienced tax experts for cryptocurrencies

will gladly support you in this. The easiest way to reach us is by e-mail (, by phone (+49 69 76 75 77 80) or via our contact form for the taxation of cryptocurrencies. Feel free to contact us with your inquiries.

Your benefits

  • Advice by specialized attorneys and tax accountants
  • Experienced in the law of cryptocurrencies since 2013
  • Individual assessment of your trades
  • Automated processing of your CSV files
  • Reconstruction of lost trade details and chronological order
  • Advice on FIFO vs. LIFO
  • Entire communication with the tax authorities by WINHELLER
  • Defending your tax return infront of fiscal courts
  • Clarification of ambigous issues


Do you need advice on the taxation of cryptocurrencies? Our crypto tax experts will be happy to advise you! Please fill out our contact form for this purpose.

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