SALT Stabilization: How it Works

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I’ve Been Stabilized. What’s Next?

When your Loan-to-Value ratio (LTV) exceeds 90.91%, we stabilize your loan by converting all of your volatile assets into stablecoin (USDC).

At this point, you will notice that your USDC wallet reflects the total US Dollar value of your combined portfolio. Each collateral wallet balance will show $0. Don’t panic!

How Do I Convert Back to My Original Assets?

To get your original assets back, you will need to manage your LTV and restore the health of your loan to a safe state (83.33% LTV or lower). To do this, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Loan Status page or click “Manage LTV” in the notification module on the dashboard.
Image for post 2. Manage your LTV by either depositing more crypto or making a one-time payment in the Manage LTV Module. Image for post

3. We recommend curing your LTV to a healthy state (<70%), but as long as you have managed it to 83.3% or below, you will be eligible to convert.

4. Navigate back to the Loan Status Page. You will see that your LTV has dropped, but you are still being held in Stabilization Mode.

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5. In the Manage LTV module, you will notice that you are now eligible to convert. Click “Convert Now” to convert back to your original assets or to a mix of any assets we accept as collateral.

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6. The convert tool will default to the percentages of your original collateral mix. You may edit this and convert back to a different collateral mix if you’d like.

7. Click “Next” to review the details of your conversion and then click “Convert Now” to confirm. Once confirmed, you will have successfully reverted back to your asset mix of choice.

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Still have questions about stabilization?

Please call our support team at +1 (720) 575–2272.

What to Expect When the Value of Your Collateral is on the Decline

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Your collateral is what protects your loan. It’s why SALT doesn’t need to perform income checks or credit checks when issuing a loan. But cryptocurrencies are volatile, so what happens if the value of your collateral begins to fall? Declining collateral value negatively impacts your Loan-to Value-Ratio (LTV) — that is the amount of outstanding principal still owed on your loan divided by the value of your underlying collateral: Outstanding Principal / Value of Collateral. LTV is the key metric SALT uses to determine the health of a loan. The lower the LTV, the healthier the loan. If the value of your collateral goes up, your LTV goes down. If the value of your collateral goes down, your LTV goes up. It’s that simple.

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Choosing your Loan-to-Value (LTV)

When choosing your LTV, the most important consideration is your risk tolerance. We offer starting LTV options of 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, and 70%. If you go with a 30% LTV, you are choosing the safest level of overcollateralization, or cushion. With a 70% LTV, you won’t have to deposit as much crypto to begin with, but you’ll have the least amount of cushion. The higher the starting LTV, the higher the risk. Choose the LTV option that’s right for you.

What can you expect from us when your collateral declines in value and your LTV begins to rise? Lots of notifications.

If your collateral continues to go down in value, your LTV will steadily climb. As your LTV crosses certain critical thresholds (75%, 83%, 88%, and 90.91% as of the time of this writing) SALT’s robust monitoring and notification technology kicks in to help protect your loan.

  • At 75%, we give you a heads up, letting you know to monitor your loan more closely given your collateral is declining in value.
  • At 83%, we inform you that things are not looking so good, and you may want to consider paying back some of the loan or depositing extra collateral.
  • At 88%, we issue a final warning to let you know that if you don’t pay back some of the loan or deposit more collateral, you run a high risk of having your assets liquidated.
  • At 90.91%, SALT is contractually obligated to liquidate a portion of your collateral in order to prevent the lender from losing their investment.

After all, lenders wouldn’t be willing to lend the money in the first place if SALT couldn’t guarantee its safety.

How you respond to a rising LTV and warning notifications is up to you. Here are the current options:

  1. Pay back a portion of the loan — You can make a payment in USD via wire or ACH, or you can make a payment using a stablecoin instead. SALT currently accepts PAX, USDC and TUSD. With this option, you are choosing to lower your LTV by paying down the principal on your loan.
  2. Deposit more collateral — You can quickly and easily deposit additional collateral (it can be the same collateral your loan is backed by or a different collateral type that we offer). With this option, you are choosing to lower your LTV by increasing the total value of the underlying collateral.
  3. Do nothing — You can choose to ignore the warnings. If your collateral continues to decline in value, SALT may eventually be forced to liquidate a portion of your assets on the open market.

We’ve done the math to show you how each of these options impacts your assets, remaining principal, and required payment.

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Based on the above calculations, if you want to avoid any loss of assets, it’s best to respond as quickly as possible with options one or two. Otherwise, option three is available if that’s what you prefer. Either way it’s important to think through the options and know where you stand before your LTV crosses our liquidation threshold.

Keep tabs on your loan health from anywhere via the real-time LTV widget on your web dashboard or by logging into your account through our mobile app.

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It’s on us to monitor your loan health and keep you updated. It’s on you to take action (or not take action) when your collateral value is on the decline.

Considerations for Filing Taxes as a Crypto Holder in 2020

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors when filing your taxes.

While the tax deadline has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s still a good idea to file as soon as possible, especially for those taxpayers who are expecting a refund. For crypto holders, it’s important to note that for the first time ever, this year every tax-paying American will be getting quizzed explicitly on their crypto activity. Indeed, the 2020 season will mark the first time the following question appears right at the top of the 1040 tax form:

“At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”

This year however, federal tax forms ask about your bitcoin and other cryptocurrency activities, the latest move to more directly specify details for cryptocurrencies. The IRS is focusing on those who may be underreporting their crypto transactions or not reporting them at all.

What does this new sentence in your tax form this year really mean, and how should it impact how you report crypto in your 2019 taxes? To help understand, we asked SALT experts, along with our partners and friends at Node40TaxBitBlox and Friedman LLP.

Know Your Cost Basis

The first thing to know is that one is taxed on profit — the key figure to find out is the gain number. The most recent set of guidance from the IRS was released in October 2019 and it included a few methods of “cost basis assignment” mentioned therein. For those who aren’t accountants, this means one of a few ways to track profits and losses. Know your cost basis and what the IRS deems taxable. Most importantly, know your “gain number.”

Cost basis means the price at which you initially acquired an asset. For example, if you hold one BTC today, which you previously purchased at $9,000, and the price today is $11,000, the cost basis is that acquisition price of $9,000. So, the unrealized gain number (without selling) and the realized gain number (if you were to sell) is the net between today’s price and the cost basis, meaning in this case $2,000.

Cost basis can also mean the fair market value of the asset on the date of acquisition. For example, you received one BTC from work as compensation for services on 1/1. The value of BTC on 1/1 is $9,000. Later when you sell one BTC at $11,000, the then fair market value of $9,000 would be the cost basis, and you would realize $2,000 gain. The fair market value can be determined using a reasonable method, such us prices on any third-party independent trading platforms, as long as the same method is applied consistently for all your crypto transactions.

Loan collateral does not count as a transaction

For SALT customers, it’s important to know that your crypto held as collateral for a cash or stablecoin loan does not count as a taxable transaction unless your collateral is liquidated; a liquidation is a taxable event. If your collateral increases in value during the course of your loan term, this does not count as a gain or taxable action unless the collateral is sold. According to Friedman LLP, should you have a business loan with SALT, take note that business interest is deductible and subject to limitations (generally 30% of adjusted taxable income if the business had more than $25 million gross receipts). While interest on personal loans is generally not deductible, it may be deductible if you are self-employed and you use the loan for your own business or if you are employed but you use the loan to make other investments that generate income (the loan then becomes a business loan or investment loan).

First-In-First-Out (FIFO)

First-In-First-Out (FIFO) is the default accounting method. Your cost (the price at which you purchase a crypto asset) is calculated at the initial purchase date. So, if you buy a Bitcoin in January, another in March, and sell one in June, the “cost” isn’t from March, but January. The first “in” is the first purchasing transaction. First “out” is the first one sold. With digital currency the date of purchase and sale are clear in the coins and tokens themselves, making reporting much easier.

The aforementioned guidance from the IRS clarifies how to calculate your gain number.

By way of example: assume you purchase one BTC on 1/1 for $10,000, one BTC on 2/1 for $15,000, and then sell one BTC on 3/1 for $12,500 — your taxable gain or loss using first-in-first-out is computed by taking $12,500 of proceeds less your cost basis of $10,000 (which comes from the earliest purchase of BTC). This results in a $2,500 taxable gain.

While FIFO is the default method, the IRS makes it clear that the Specific Identification method can also be used if a taxpayer can document unique digital identifiers such as a private or public key. The acceptance of specific identification is favorable for taxpayers, as it allows taxpayers to assign their highest cost basis lots first, which in return minimizes their tax liability.

More details on this specific topic can be found over at Taxbit’s blog here.

Be Careful Using 1099s from Exchanges

If you have been buying crypto through exchanges, the exchange may have sent you a 1099-K or 1099-B form. Even if you did not receive these documents, all the 1099 methods of calculating income are still valid for you. The exchange calculates and reports gross proceeds, meaning that it is on the taxpayer to provide information on the cost they paid to acquire said assets and reported in the capital gains section, otherwise known as IRS 8949.

Specifically, form 1099-K reports gross proceeds, which the IRS interprets as income. The number reported on form 1099-K is not counted as income however, as cryptocurrency trading carries cost basis and is to be reported in the capital gains and losses section of a taxpayer’s tax return. Form 1099-B reports cost basis when available and makes it easier for you as a taxpayer to complete your required IRS 8949. Some cryptocurrency exchanges may not send you anything at all. Regardless of which form you receive or don’t receive, your responsibility as a taxpayer is to use the information to complete your IRS 8949, which reports your capital gains and losses.

Verify the Data You Receive

The crypto industry is still relatively new and while the exchanges and trading technology may have some advanced reporting features built in, the institutions built around that technology are still new. With traditional securities, there is a clearinghouse, a broker, and well-established financial statements that make it easy to determine your taxes. With cryptocurrency, many of the exchanges are still in the process of refining external reporting standards. This means that, as a user, the level of completeness in reporting expected from NYSE cannot possibly be replicated by virtually any new institutions.

According to data by NODE40, the reports generated by cryptocurrency exchanges will be incorrect for about 80% of cryptocurrency traders. We can’t fault the exchanges because there is simply no way for them to determine the cost basis of the assets you’ve been moving around. For this reason, it’s important to consider using a third-party platform that can calculate the gains and losses on your cryptocurrency as you move it from exchange to exchange or wallet to wallet.

Conclusion: Educating Ourselves is Essential

Crypto accounting and tax reporting can be daunting and complex, which is why staying engaged with news and trends is essential to understanding the evolving landscape of crypto taxation. Especially in the U.S, the IRS is taking more steps to introduce greater guidance and clarity. But without proper education and trained professionals, navigating crypto tax can be tough.

Tax preparers and investors rely on 1099 forms in traditional markets — crypto is no different. Without it, the burden of responsibility shifts to the investor, requiring them to keep track of all of their crypto activity for the year. This includes tracking every crypto-related transaction, like fair market value based on the date of purchase or sale of assets.

All of this information is vital for preparers to determine cost basis and properly calculate gains and losses. Therein lies the primary challenge. Some crypto accounting and management platforms have emerged to solve this growing industry need for smarter solutions. Industry giants need reliable, accurate and smart tools.

Because crypto remains a new field and exchanges are widespread around the world, not all exchanges report in the same method. This is why the savvy users will double check the work of the exchange, a task for which there are now new tools available. These errors can have a massive tax impact, particularly when it comes to tracking the cost of acquisition of the asset over time. Luckily there are tools that exist that can provide traders and crypto entrepreneurs with intelligent support.

Taxes are a part of life. This year hundreds of millions of Americans will be reminded explicitly of the existence of digital assets — a good thing for the industry that will drive greater awareness and adoption of cryptoassets. If you’re already a crypto hodler or trader, diligence is key to successfully filing your 2019 taxes this year. Whether you use a third-party tool or rely solely on exchanges to track the movement of your assets, it’s crucial that you know your gain number and verify its accuracy, that you review the IRS guidelines, and that you use trusted sources to educate yourself on what to report and how to go about it.

Loan to Value (LTV) Explained

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When you apply for a traditional loan, the lender uses your credit score, as reported by third-party credit agencies, to determine your credit worthiness or financial “reputation.” The higher your credit score, the lower the risk. To offset your credit score or in some cases even completely remove it from the equation, you can apply for an asset-backed loan. With this type of loan, you can offer up your assets — anything from your house or car to your stock portfolio — as collateral to act as “insurance” for the lender. In asset-backed lending, borrowers typically secure loans for an amount that’s less than the total value of the collateral.

The measurement of the balance of the loan relative to the value of the collateral asset is represented as loan-to-value or LTV. For example, you may have a loan for $320,000 for a home that is valued at $400,000, in which case your loan is 80% of the total value of the home.

As an asset-backed lender, one of the things that makes SALT unique is that we don’t even look at your credit score. With a SALT loan when you have collateral — whether you’re unbanked, haven’t accumulated credit, or have poor credit — you can still get a loan. Instead, SALT uses loan-to-value of your collateral to assign risk. As LTV is a measure of risk, the lower the LTV, the lower the risk for the lender (and therefore the lower the interest rate for the borrower).

How is LTV calculated?

Good question.

LTV is calculated as the loan amount in USD divided by the value of the collateral in USD, expressed as a percentage.

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As an example, if you have a current loan balance of $100,000 and your total collateral asset balance is $200,000, you have an LTV of 50%. To make things easier, we’ve added an LTV Helper to the borrower portal that illustrates exactly how the LTV is calculated. See below.

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Understanding LTV and how it’s calculated is essential to making an informed decision about your loan terms. Liquidation events benefit no one, which is why we provide the tools like our automated notification system to help you avoid them. Before you apply for a loan, you should ask yourself:

  • How much do I need?
  • How much total crypto do I have?
  • Am I prepared to deposit more crypto if necessary to lower my LTV?

Once you answer these questions, you can choose the LTV that’s right for you.

Starting LTV

When you are taking out a loan against your crypto assets with SALT, you presently have 3 options for your starting LTV; 30%, 40% and 50%. The starting LTV will determine approximately how much (in terms of dollars) of the crypto asset you will need for that loan.

From the example above, for a $100,000 loan, you would need $200,000 in Bitcoin, Ether, Doge, or Litecoin to secure the 50% LTV loan option. For a 40% LTV, it would be $250,000 and for 30% LTV, it would be approximately $333,333.

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Using LTV as a measure of risk, the 30% LTV option is the lowest risk.

Why is a lower LTV seen as less risk?

As the LTV goes up, the value of the underlying asset goes down. In the case of a crypto asset-backed loan, the value of Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, or Doge is trending down.

If the price of the crypto asset falls too low, the LTV will continue to increase. As it approaches 100%, there is a threshold where the collateralized asset will be sold to pay back the loan. This is known as the liquidation threshold. This threshold can vary from business to business and loan to loan.

For our example, let’s say the liquidation threshold is set to a 90% LTV.

When the LTV ratio reaches 90%, the crypto asset will be sold to reduce the LTV back down.

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Timeout. Liquidations!?!

At SALT, we pride ourselves in having a robust notification system that relays important account activity to borrowers via our portal, text, phone calls, and emails. We give you control of how you want to be notified about each activity. You can be notified of everything from deposits and withdrawals to LTV warning thresholds.

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As a borrower, you always have the option to transfer more collateral at any time.

Back to LTVs.

Why does this matter?

As you might be aware, the price of Bitcoin (or any crypto asset) can move up and down. As the price moves up, your LTV goes down. As the price moves down, your LTV goes up.

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To build on our earlier example of a $100,000 loan with a 50% LTV, let’s use Bitcoin as the underlying crypto asset. In this example, let’s use $4,000 as the US dollar price of 1 Bitcoin.

Loan Amount = $100,000

Starting LTV = 50%

Price of 1 Bitcoin = $4,000

Doing the math $200,000/$4,000, you would need approximately 50.00 BTC to get a $100,000 loan with a 50% starting LTV.

Bringing it all together!

From above, assuming the liquidation threshold is set at 90% LTV, the price of 1 Bitcoin would need to go all the way down to approximately $2,222 to raise the LTV up to the liquidation threshold of 90% LTV.

A $100,000 loan with a starting LTV of 40%, would require 62.50 BTC at a price of $4,000 per Bitcoin. However, the 90% liquidation threshold would not be reached until the price of 1 Bitcoin went down to approximately $1,778.

Repeating the example with a 30% LTV, you would need 83.33 BTC at a price of $4,000 per Bitcoin and would reach the 90% liquidation threshold when the price of 1 Bitcoin was approximately $1,333.

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The first card that lets you use
your crypto for everyday purchases,
without selling any of it.

The first card that lets you use
your crypto for everyday purchases,
without selling any of it.