Category Archives: Cryptocurrency Tax

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HMRC Publishes Comprehensive Guide for UK Crypto Tax

HMRC Publishes Comprehensive Guide for UK Crypto Tax

Thorough crypto tax guidelines have been published in the United Kingdom by the nation’s tax agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Published on 19 December, the comprehensive guide details the circumstances or instances in which a crypto holder, trader or someone who receives payment in the form of crypto would need to pay taxes. At present, the HMRC report refers only to individuals. Tax guidelines for crypto assets in businesses or utilized by businesses are due to be published at some point in the future; HMRC also notes that the “tax policy may evolve as the sector develops”.

The framework set out by the HMRC is lengthy with many nuances and sub-sections throughout which provide provisions for hard forks, losses and so on, there are some key takeaways that indicate that the UK is beginning to formally adopt cryptocurrencies into the national economy and pave the way for crypto legitimacy.

The move builds on the work laid out by the UK’s Cryptoasset Taskforce (CATF), an entity comprised of the UK Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who in a bid to regulate the nascent sector have optimistically endeavored to examine and study cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

What is taxable?

The CATF had previously split cryptocurrencies into three camps: security tokens, utility tokens, and exchange tokens. Though these taxation guidelines only apply to exchange tokens, the HMRC writes: “This paper considers the taxation of exchange tokens (like bitcoins) and does not specifically consider utility or security tokens. For utility and security tokens this guidance provides our starting principles but a different tax treatment may need to be adopted.”

In brief, the HMRC outlines that crypto holders need to pay capital gains tax when they have purchased tokens in an attempt to make gains on their investments. Additionally, those who receive payment from their employers in the form of tokens which are classified as “readily convertible assets”, meaning they can easily be exchanged for cash, will be required to pay income tax, though there are nuances on when the employer pays tax on the employee’s behalf, and vice versa.

Pooling

Amongst the numerous recordkeeping requirements where a user is required to detail token type, date received, the number of tokens and so on, the HMRC offers a “pooling” option for crypto tokens which allows for simplified capital gains tax calculations, which removes the need to monitor each individual loss or gain transaction.

HMRC writes: “For example, if a person owns Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin they would have three pools and each one would have its own “pooled allowable cost” associated with it. This pooled allowable cost changes as more tokens of that particular type are acquired and disposed of.”

Other activities

Mining and airdrops have also received the tax treatment. For miners, “if the activity does not amount to a trade”, then the awarded amount is taxable as miscellaneous income with reductions available based upon mining expenses. Furthermore, mining fees are also subject to income tax as either “trading or miscellaneous income”, which depends on a few factors with regard to the activity, namely: degree of activity, organization, risk, and commerciality.

For airdrops, “income tax will not always apply” if tokens were received “without doing anything in return” or are “not as part of a trade or business involving cryptoassets or mining”. However, if airdropped tokens were received in return for, “or in expectation of”, a service, then income tax applies.

 

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US Crypto Tax Liability Confusion Prompts Specialized Software Use

tax, income tax

Cryptocurrency users are beginning to realize that no matter which part of the world they call home, the taxman has woken up to the fact that there is government revenue to be harvested from these digital assets.

Many countries are beginning to revise tax laws to incorporate cryptocurrency profits into end-of-year declarations. This is a time of confusion for many in the US as a lot of crypto dabblers and more serious investors are still not clear on how to go about filing tax returns which include cryptocurrency assets.

Local regulations may well differ, and for some making these calculations is best left to professionals. Node 40 is a company that has now moved to offer this support after seeing a gap in the market. Described as a QuickBooks for blockchain tokens, Perry Woodin’s and Sean Ryan’s company quickly realized that Node 40 was capable of filling what still amounts to an education gap in most people’s understanding of cryptocurrencies; how does one pay tax on them, and does one really need to? Although there might be confusion, regrettably there is no escape.

Node 40 software allows users to integrate their wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges used by them over the course of the tax year to calculate what needs to be reported.  Woodin and Ryan argue it is worth knowing what is declarable to avoid strife further down the track, caused by a simple lack of the basic facts.

“If people are transacting in digital currency, it’s important that anyone understands that there’s a tax obligation on their part. Whether they’re paying their taxes or whether they’re day traders trying to make it big in the crypto world – it doesn’t matter. Any time you’re interacting with digital currency, it’s important that people understand there is a tax liability.”

Converting Bitcoin to goods or services or exchanging BTC to other cryptocurrencies could incur a tax.  This is useful information with the IRS on the warpath, having warned of a coup this year. The main problem in filing a 2018 1099-K form according to Woodin and Ryan is for those that have made significant losses due to fall in cryptocurrency prices, they will need to balance declaring such losses to write off a tax liability with the risk of drawing annual scrutiny by the IRS, “…giving the tax authorities much better visibility of people’s crypto involvement.”

The state of Ohio’s announcement that it will now accept Bitcoin as well as fiat for payment of taxes has its own problems, according to Ryan, as it creates a federally taxable event for the user, who then has to consider whether they are saving enough in fees paying in Bitcoin to offset the obligations that might be created federally.

Woodin and Ryan maintain the IRS will get sharper as they adapt emerging technologies requiring their own discrete measures, but people would be a lot happier paying these taxes if they had an easier means to do so, one that cuts through all those complicated numbers, and saves all that confusion.

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South Korea Contemplates Crypto and ICO Tax Laws

South Korea Contemplates Crypto and ICO Tax Laws

A plan to tax cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) is underway in South Korea, this according to finance minister nominee Hong Nam-ki.

Examination

The Korea Times has reported that the nominee submitted a written answer to the National Assembly on Sunday, 2 December, during his confirmation hearing. According to the article, Hong said that the plan to tax crypto and ICOs would be completed once the taxation infrastructure has been created and furthermore, based on sentiments drawn from international discussions, saying:

“A task force consisting of experts from relevant government agencies including the National Tax Service and the private sector will be formed to examine overseas examples and hammer out the taxation plan.”

Hong rather specifically describes cryptocurrencies as “electronic signs of values issued privately”; he said there are around 2,000 digital tokens being traded on a global level and 160 in South Korea.

He writes, “Cryptocurrencies are a new phenomenon and so there is no internationally agreed regulatory framework… Furthermore, there are such lingering problems as the market overheating and investor protection. Therefore, we need to be careful in building the regulatory framework.”

Precedent

His words are typical of those who seek to establish an accommodating environment for the technology. Previously, the governor of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) urged members of the global community to seek out an “international discipline system” for cryptocurrencies and ICOs. In his speech, the governor described the need to encourage financial innovation, while aiming to cool the “overheated speculation” of the markets, minimize consumer risks and tackle illegal activities associated with cryptos.

In August, the South Korean Blockchain Enterprise Promotion Association (BEPA) made calls for the government to act faster in its efforts to regulate blockchain and cryptocurrencies. BEPA criticized the government for giving too much focus to the “negative short-term-side effects” and instead stifling the nation’s ability to compete on the world stage.

Tax perks

There had been previous uproar in South Korea over the government’s decision to exclude cryptocurrency trading platforms from a special tax relief programme for “new-growth technologies“.

Hong offered his thoughts on the matter, believing that the exclusion was due to crypto exchanges being criticized for their vulnerabilities to illegal activities, and this move was a reflection of such sentiments.

He adds: “We will do our utmost to nurture blockchain technology as nine out of the ten business types classified as blockchain-related businesses by Statistics Korea excluding the crypto exchanges can be still acknowledged as venture companies.”

In the following discourse, fears over domestic enterprises moving to other countries soon became a reality when cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb was sold off to a Singapore-based consortium. As a result, a South Korean lawmaker proposed a bill that would provide the structure for the development of exchanges, “tax reduction and exemption” and guidance pertaining to security issues.

With regards to the contentious topic of ICOs, which remain banned with an official decision still pending, Hong said, “We will determine our policy orientations on ICOs with relevant agencies after reviewing the results of the financial regulator’s market survey and getting feedback from experts.”

 

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US Members of Congress Call for Clear Crypto Tax Rules

Lawmakers in the United States have reached out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the nation’s tax collection agency, calling for clearer taxation rules concerning cryptocurrency.

Failure to inform

The letter has been signed by Representatives David Schweikert, Darin LaHood, Lynn Jenkins, Brad Wenstrup, and Kevin Brady, who is the chairman of the committee on Ways and Means.

The open letter, dated 19 September, recalls a letter sent to the IRS over a year ago with regards to enforcement actions taken by the IRS against cryptocurrency holders. With some tone of complaint, the letter says that after this time, the IRS has expanded enforcement “without issuing any further guidance for taxpayers”.

It said, “We therefore write again today to strongly urge the IRS to issue updated guidance, providing additional clarity for taxpayers seeking to better understand and comply with their tax obligations when using virtual currencies.”

“Adequate time”

The letter also makes note of the March 2018 notice that the IRS released as a reminder to taxpayers who have not declared their cryptocurrency transactions can be held liable for penalties and interest.

It adds, “The IRS has had four years to work through these issues since its preliminary guidance was issued, providing more than adequate time for the IRS to thoughtfully consider what additional information is needed.”

Earlier this year in April, the IRS released a notice on the treatment of cryptocurrencies for taxation purposes although, at this time, Arizona was the state which was attempting to pass crypto tax bills.

The letter argues that the IRS has failed to provide adequate guidance to taxpayers, significantly hindering their capacity to comply with crypto tax obligations.

This motion has received backing from the community, cryptocurrency advocacy group Coin Center published a blog post saying that they were “glad to see Congress take action”. It wrote, “Currently, a user needs to calculate capital gains on every stick of gum they buy with cryptocurrency. That doesn’t make sense. The Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act, introduced last year, would address this issue.”

Strong words

The lawmakers’ letter closes by “strongly urging” the IRS to introduce robust clarifications on crypto tax obligations. It also asks for a written response from the IRS which provides an outline on efforts to be made by the IRS, a timeline for release and what the IRS “intends to cover in this guidance”.

Furthermore, it states, “To assist the Committee in better understanding this issue, we will be asking the Government Accountability Office to undertake an audit on this matter.”

In the United Kingdom, similar efforts to create clearer cryptocurrency regulations have been made by the Treasury Committee, calling for the “Wild West” market to be regulated.

 

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South Korean Crypto Circles Criticize Tax Perks Exclusion

The recent decision to exclude South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges from the proposed tax benefits for “New-Growth Technologies” has been met with significant backlash from three leading blockchain associations.

Controversial proposal

The South Korean Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) has ruled that cryptocurrency trading platforms are to be treated in the same ilk as entertainment or gambling businesses and others. Therefore, they will not be subject to the special tax relief that had been proposed earlier in July.

In total, 157 technologies across 11 areas were included in the “new-growth technologies”. Quantum computing, commercialization facilities and blockchain technologies were part of this list.

The announcement came from the “Revitalization Support System for Investment Promotion” that took place on 18 July. A point of contention, however, was that government wasn’t sure where blockchain technologies were concerned, due to initial coin offerings (ICOs) and digital currencies still being treated as gambling.

SMEs or venture businesses included in the Restriction of Special Taxation Act found themselves relishing in tax cuts of anywhere between 50-100% in their first five years of operation.

Later on, in July, the government concluded that cryptocurrency exchanges did not fit within this new taxation law for SMEs and proposed for the amendment exclude exchanges from the special tax rate. The government justified this saying, “The virtual currency transaction brokerage was not effective in generating added value.”

Backlash

This proposal is now subject to much scrutiny among blockchain groups in South Korea. On 10 August, the Ministry of SMEs formally announced that it would be amending the tax laws and confirmed the aforementioned rationale to exclude cryptocurrency exchanges from them.

The Korea Blockchain Association, Korea Blockchain Industry Promotion Association and the Korea Blockchain Startup Association have banded together to combat the decision in strong opposition.

In a letter to the ministry, the associations have accused the government of stifling innovation within the blockchain industry, arguing that the change is “against the regulatory innovation trend of President Moon Jae-in”.

They wrote, “If this legislation is implemented, domestic companies with the second largest number of blockchain technology patents after IBM will be excluded from classification as venture businesses just because they operate a cryptocurrency exchange.”

Adding, “The investment in research and development by blockchain technology-based companies will be hindered. As such, companies that are not able to receive policy benefits and tax incentives will either fail or move overseas.”

Until 4 September, the ministry’s proposal will be under review; it can be expected that South Korean cryptocurrency exchange operators and blockchain associations will be challenging this proposal until then.

 

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South Korean Exchanges Could Lose SME Tax Relief

In South Korea, special taxation laws for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may no longer apply to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Previously, the Restriction of Special Taxation Act included tax reductions or exemptions for SMEs or venture businesses in the range of 50% to 100% of either income tax or corporate tax in the first five years. Afterwards, this range would be reduced to a range between 5% and 30%.

Tax law revisions

A new draft bill will be submitted to the National Assembly by the end of August 2018, after which it will be opened up to debate within the parliament prior to when or if the bill will be enacted into law. If it is approved, cryptocurrency exchanges will not be eligible to request tax reduction or exemption.

A recent report explains that the government is proposing a revision to the present tax law with the intention of excluding crypto exchanges from this special tax rate. The government explained its reasoning behind the move saying, “The virtual currency transaction brokerage was not effective in generating added value.”

Should the bill pass and be legislated into law, cryptocurrency exchanges will also be obligated to operate under a code of ethics that commercial banks in the country are required to follow, which includes practices such as transaction monitoring.

Cogs in motion

Under the revised laws, cryptocurrency exchanges would officially become financial institutions, which would cause them to fall under South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC). In recent weeks, the FSC has been developing a new tax credit scheme designed specifically with “new-growth technologies” in mind, which includes blockchain technologies.

It comes shortly after the Korean National Assembly saw a whirlwind of political parties submit draft bills in a bid to create the necessary regulatory frameworks for initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

South Korea’s financial watchdog has also established a new governing body in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As part of the FSC, a new entity named the Financial Innovation Bureau (FIB) will be working to provide “policy initiatives for financial innovation e.g. innovative financial services using fintech or big data and responses to new developments and challenges such as cryptocurrencies”.

Hong Seong-ki, head of the virtual currency response team for the Korean FSC has been pushing to have these bills prepared and passed with haste, urging lawmakers to do so in order to better protect consumer and investors.

South Korea is at a complete turning point, and could very soon be joining the likes of Malta with world-leading and clear laws and regulations.

 

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Australia Tackles Crypto Taxation with New Crypto Classification

Australia’s tax authority has declared intentions to track citizens who hide their cryptocurrency gains offshore using data-matching services that also target “unexplained assets and wealth”.

Taxation

Earlier in 2018, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) published guidelines on the taxation of virtual currencies. It highlighted Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that behave similarly to Bitcoin as neither being money, or foreign currency, but a property deemed similar to assets, making them liable for capital gains tax.

Despite the bullish comments from Tony Richards, head of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in June, it was evident in his eyes that the mainstream adoption of virtual currencies wasn’t to happen in the foreseeable future, which may have contributed to the “asset” classification.

“100-point” check

Also in June, ATO announced its enforcement of crypto tax requirements through a 100-point check, which is a system that will be utilizing sophisticated data-matching techniques and is a system already favored by the Australian government as well as other sectors.

Through existing data-sharing agreements with over 40 other nations, the ATO can now target crypto-investors trading on offshore exchanges. It is estimated by the country’s accounting body CPA Australia that this will be the first time ever that “hundreds of thousands” of Australian taxpayers will make cryptocurrency tax declarations.

However, ATO acting deputy commissioner Martin Jacobs believes it is impossible to tell just how many will be including gains and losses on cryptocurrencies in their tax returning this year.

End of double taxation

Up until now, there had been a “double tax” on cryptocurrencies which lifted on 1 July 2018. The 2017-2018 Budget Summary writes: “The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia… purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST.”

It later added: “Currently, consumers who use digital currencies can effectively bear GST twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.”

Speaking with local media outlet the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Jacobs said, “Our feeling is that the vast majority of investors who joined the bubble in 2017 are likely to be in the loss position as opposed to a gain… The other assumption is they probably haven’t disposed of their cryptocurrency. They might just be holding it.”

Under that condition, there would be no tax implications; Jacobs did reveal that the ATO isn’t “alarmed” by the crypto-specific tax compliance risks.

He said, “Where people attempt to deliberately avoid these obligations we will attempt to take action. We have a range of existing powers that are designed to address unexplained wealth and conspicuous consumption that may arise through profits derived through cryptocurrency investment.”

 

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Crypto Skeptic India May Apply Tax Laws on Crypto in Possible Turning Point

Anonymous sources in India are suggesting that the crypto-sceptical nation may be at a turning point with the possibility of a goods and service tax (GST) on cryptocurrency trading.

Bloomberg reported that the government might be applying an 18% GST as there is a chance that the Indian government could classify cryptocurrencies as a supply of “intangible goods” and, therefore, making them subject to the tax levy with separate laws to be introduced that address the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities.

The proposal is reportedly being considered by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs which, according to the anonymous source, will be presented before the GST council one it is finalized.

The source makes the case that the income tax department had realized critical nature of taxing digital currencies sooner than later. This is due to the digital asset markets growth which can build up significant liabilities, making recovery difficult in the future.

Early turbulence

The news is oddly contrasting with previous reports that have emerged from India, with April a particularly turbulent period. Earlier in the month, Bitcoin News reported that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was prohibiting all banks and financial entities from “facilitating transactions involving cryptocurrencies”, a move that sparked a petition that received 17,000 signatures, backed mostly by younger users who were employed in the blockchain industry.

Bitcoin bull Tim Draper chimed in during the April maelstrom, suggesting that the Indian government’s prohibitions against cryptocurrency would be “stifling innovation”. With that said, in May, Bitcoin News reported that despite the clampdowns, India has a wealth of crypto-savvy software developers that are more than capable of pushing innovation in the country. A study made by Indian HR company, Belong, brought to light the 5,000-strong developers who could drive the industry forward for India.

Efforts to create the taxation and regulatory frameworks were underway in late March when the largest tax filing platform began making inroads toward building appropriate regulations; the attempt to clarify cryptocurrency laws came shortly after exchanges and cryptocurrency traders came under significant pressures from the RBI and other banks.

Tackling cynicism

The decision to apply the taxation laws on cryptocurrencies hinges largely on the outcomes of the ongoing regulatory efforts being made by the department of economic affairs. Indian crypto exchanges believe a complete ban would be “futile” as the RBI not allowing for banks to transact with them would force buyers and sellers to other means of settling trades. This could contribute to illegal activities and, therefore, cause the ban to come down even harder on the industry.

Treating cryptocurrencies as goods and services may allow for the undeniably lucrative market to stay in force in India. Classifying them as currencies, however, would require changes in the law.

Should a positive consensus be reached through the appropriate classification, taxation and consequently, regulation standards, then India could soon follow in the footsteps of other countries embracing the technology.

 

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Thailand, Latest Addition to Asian Cryptocurrency Tax and Regulation Movement

Thailand is the latest country in the Asia region to start levying taxes on cryptocurrencies, despite receiving some opposition from the Thai Blockchain associations. The news arrives as other countries in the region and around the world ramp up legal and regulatory efforts.

Value-Added Tax and Capital Gains

In early April 2018, Thailand’s Ministry of Finance released plans to tax cryptocurrency trading and investments. After a cabinet meeting in late March, Thai Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong responded to a letter sent by digital asset associations calling for the Deputy Prime Minister and government to “rethink the enforcement of a royal decree to regulate digital asset transactions — particularly the withholding tax, as it could be an obstacle to startup fund-raising,“ reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

The proposed 15% capital gains tax is considered by digital asset operators in Thailand to be a stifling figure for the industry. It puts financial pressure on startups seeking to break into the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, which could hinder overall innovation in the country.

There is also a 7 percent VAT charged on all cryptocurrency trades in the country, which for would-be blockchain entrepreneurs and companies seeking to have digital money as part of their business model is very off-putting.

Subject to Change

With that said, it’s somewhat important to note that the Thai legislation is still in its infantile stages. Since 2014, France had laws in place that classified cryptocurrency profits as either industrial and commercial profits or non-commercial profits, which made them subject to an eye-watering 45% capital gains tax at the top end for residents in the highest tax bracket.

As of late April 2018, the French Council of State reclassified cryptocurrencies as “movable property.” This makes them akin to transportable assets such as vehicles, precious metals or intellectual property and brings the tax rate down to a flat 19%, which may be high but is still a definite advancement for blockchain industries and investors in France.

Asian Advancements

Other countries in Asia are also beginning to relieve crypto-tax pressures with nations such as the Philippines announcing a special economic zone for ten blockchain and virtual currency companies.

In Abu Dhabi, the Global Market’s Financial Services Authority released proposals for a “fit-for-purpose” regulatory and taxation framework. In a statement, Richard Teng Chief Executive of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FRSA), regulator of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) said:

“The FSRA is seeking to instill proper governance, oversight, and transparency over crypto asset activities,” Adding further, he said, “Our proposed regulatory regime is only possible with our deep understanding and knowledge of the solutions available to address the respective risks and represents the most comprehensive regime proposed by global regulators so far.”

South Korea, Japan, and China are also making similar headlines with regulatory and tax reforms that can only serve positively towards the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

In Thailand, it is still early days and should the new tax laws prove too high for the country; there is a chance that the state will follow up on the original policies with further amendments, just like many other crypto-adopting societies in the world.

 

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