In the eyes of the IRS, are gift cards viewed as an object or as currency? Like if I were to accept gift cards as payment for items I sell in an online store, am I accepting dollars or am I trading property with my customers? Do they differentiate between a physical gift card and a 'virtual gift card', as in an identification code that operates exactly like a gift card, minus the physical plastic card with a magnetic strip.

  • In what legal context do you think it might make a difference? And why would the SEC have anything do with your online store? Dec 17, 2021 at 0:01
  • Note that those "major retailers" usually tell people not to pay third parties in gift cards, e.g. security.target.com/fraud. And the FTC would call you a "scammer" and "not a real business": consumer.ftc.gov/articles/gift-card-scams. However, they don't say whether any specific law is actually violated by accepting gift cards as payment. Dec 17, 2021 at 0:06
  • @NateEldredge Oops I rewrote my question and forgot to take that out. The 'property' I want to accept from customers is cryptocurrency. I know the SEC regulates cryptocurrency exchanges where they exchange crypto for USD. The big question I'm leading up to is if me trading the dollar value represented on my gift cards for customer's crypto could be considered a currency exchange.
    – mevers303
    Dec 17, 2021 at 0:33
  • @NateEldredge I mispoke again... The 3rd party business's do have a gift card reseller program where I hold an account with them and they issue cards in bulk to me. And to get the account I have to submit an application and be manually approved. So that's explicit approval to distribute their gift cards.
    – mevers303
    Dec 17, 2021 at 0:39
  • 1
    Ok. Your current question still talks about accepting gift cards instead of selling them. Dec 17, 2021 at 0:54

2 Answers 2


In the eyes of the IRS, income is income

It doesn't matter if that income is in the form of dollars, or gift cards, or red kidney beans, so long as you pay the correct tax on the income the IRS is happy.


A gift card, physical or virtual, is evidence of a debt owed by the store (or possibly a third party backer) to the cardholder.n many ways it is similar to an IOU, except that many IOUs are negotiable instruments, while most (if not all) gift cards are not; and most IOUs are transferable, while a significant number of gift cards are no validly transferable.

  • 1
    I wish that any downvoters would leave a comment indicting what they think is wrong with this answer. In the absence of a comment, I cannot improve the answer, others cannot use the reasons to write better answers, and readers have no idea why someone objects to the answer. Such a downvote seems pointless. Dec 17, 2021 at 19:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .