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Staking With Rocket Pool in Germany: Taxes, Rewards, rETH

Legal and tax advice on Rocket Pool staking

For quite some time now, crypto investors have discovered that profits cannot be made by merely holding cryptocurrencies and speculating on a positive price performance. Staking is an attractive investment strategy to generate additional returns through cryptocurrencies.

Conventional ETH staking difficult for many private investors

Since the end of December 2020, staking with Ethereum (ETH) is possible after the introduction of the Beacon Chain. This marked the launch of the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade and the transition from the proof-of-work (PoW) to the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in 2022.

Nevertheless, the staking possibility has been denied to the vast majority of Ether holders. The reason: To participate in staking, investors need 32 ETH. Due to the rapid growth in the value of ETH (several thousand euros), this represents an insurmountable hurdle for the vast majority of private investors. The demand for staking with lower amounts of ETH is therefore correspondingly high.

Rocket Pool makes ETH staking possible for everyone

Various providers of Ethereum staking pools have recognized this problem and created solutions for investors who have less than 32 ETH yet still want to achieve returns through staking.

A well known provider is Rocket Pool. This is a decentralized staking pool solution that uses smart contracts for the required processes. This creates a decentralized network of node operators, in which each node operator is a separate entity with its own server infrastructure.

How does staking work with Rocket Pool?

With Rocket Pool, validators only need 16 ETH to act as a validator. The remaining 16 ETH that the Ethereum protocol requires for validators is provided by a common staking pool.

The staking pool is composed of a large number of ETH amounts deposited by retail investors. The creation process is thus completely decentralized through automated smart contracts. These newly created validators (minipool) do not differ in any way from a "normal" validator outside of the Rocket Pool protocol.

What is the minimum amount of ETH on Rocket Pool?

Stakers in Rocket Pool who do not operate a Rocket Pool node contribute any number of ETH (minimum 0.01 ETH) to the staking pool.

In return for the amount of ETH they have staked, investors will immediately receive rETH tokens. This token indicates the amount of ETH submitted to the pool and at what time. At the same time, the received rETH tokens represent the staking rewards that are earned through staking over time.

The value of the staking rewards is thus calculated using the value of an rETH token:

ETH:rETH ratio = (amount of ETH staked on ETH1) / (total validator balance on ETH2)

The value of staking rewards increases over time

For example:

Person A puts 10 ETH into the staking pool and receives 10 rETH in return. A total of 100 ETH were staked with Rocket Pool. After a few years, the total number of ETH2 on the Beacon Chain increases to a total of 124 due to the rewards received from the validators.

For 1 ETH, the value of 100/124 = approx. 0.8 rETH is then achieved. Conversely, this means that 1 rETH (124/100) = 1.24 ETH in value. If person A exchanges their 10 rETH for ETH, they receive a total of 12.4 ETH. This results in a gain of 2.4 ETH for A in the example.

Rocket Pool is also attractive for larger investors

In addition, users have the option of operating their own node and thus acting as a node operator. It is necessary here to add a total of 16 ETH to the protocol and to ensure the proper execution of the node.

For this additional effort, a node operator is given staking rewards free of charge, additional commissions, and RPL rewards (valuable coins) from the network. This allows node operators to earn higher overall returns than if they were to operate a node outside of the Rocket Pool protocol in the traditional manner.

What are the advantages of Rocket Pool?

Staking via Rocket Pool offers many advantages:

  • Stakers, for one, do not need to overcome the hurdle of a total of 32 ETH. Rather, staking is possible even with the small amount of 0.01 ETH.
  • In addition, stakers on Rocket Pool can freely dispose of the received rETH and use it for other purposes (e.g. trading or lending through DeFi applications such as Uniswap). 
  • Additionally, there is an option to exchange the received rETH for ETH if sufficient resources are available for this in the staking pool. In traditional staking with Ethereum on the Beacon Chain, stakers cannot, on the other hand, currently access their deposited ETH and the rewards they have received (only when withdrawals are brought in via the corresponding EIP).
  • Moreover, Ethereum stakers usually need to have some technical know-how, as they must permanently run a special validator software on their computer in order to receive staking rewards. Pool stakers who do not operate their own node are exempt, as they are only required to deposit their ETH for staking but do not need to attend to the proper maintenance of a node.

Thus, Rocket Pool offers a comparatively user-friendly alternative.

Penalties incurred due to a malfunctioning node are distributed across the entire Rocket Pool network. Thus, no single user bears the entire full risk, but rather all users of Rocket Pool only partially bear the risk.

How are profits with Rocket Pool taxed?

For stakers who work with Rocket Pool but do not operate their own node, i.e. also staking with a small number of ETH, the exchange of ETH in rETH first represents a fiscally relevant event. Since this is a private sale transaction (Section 23 Para. 1 Clause 1 No. 2 of the Income Tax Act, EStG), any gains accruing are taxable if the holding period for the deposited ETH has not yet expired.

If the rETH are exchanged for ETH at a later date, this is also a starting point for taxation. The increase in value of the rETH tokens will then be taxed when they are exchanged for ETH, if the holding period for the rETH tokens has also not yet expired in this case.

The special features of staking with Rocket Pool offer their users several advantages. Thus, they may be able to realize tax-free gains by taking advantage of the holding period. Stakers also do not have to fear a holding period extension of ten years for their received rETH tokens.

WINHELLER advises on tax issues regarding Rocket Pool staking

Do you want to stake a larger amount of ETH on Rocket Pool? Have you made large profits from staking and now need help with your tax return? Our experienced crypto tax experts will gladly assist you:

Benefit from our professional expertise. Do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us by phone (+49 69 76 75 77 80), via e-mail (info@winheller.com) or via our contact form for the taxation of cryptocurrencies.

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