Tax Consequences - Trading in Crypto Currencies

The selling and purchasing of Crypto Currencies and the taxation consequences once again brings into discussion the concepts of trading as opposed to investing as well as the determination of when is something purchased for personal use as opposed to purchasing to make a gain.

The ATO considers that Crypto Currencies are assets for CGT purposes – this is important because it means that when one form of Crypto Currency is exchanged for another it brings about a taxation event – either capital or income (if you are a trader)


As a start to keep on the right side of the ATO should they make any enquiries you will need to keep a record of the date of each transaction as well as the amount in Australian dollars ,who the other party was and the purpose of the transaction.


Crypto Currencies – Personal Use

If you purchase Crypto Currencies for personal use, i.e. to pay for personal expenses, etc. then any gain made on the conversion will be subject to tax unless you paid less than $10 000 for the coin.

It is important to remember that to avoid tax on any profit made, the purchase has to be under $10 000 and the purchase must have been for personal use. (not trading or investing)


Trading

If you trade in Crypto Currencies i.e. you purchase Crypto Currencies to make speculative trading gains, then all profits will be taxed as ordinary income, on revenue account – not capital gains – because the 50% discount only applies to capital gains – there will be no discount for traders.

All expenses will be tax deductible including purchases and the Crypto Currencies will be trading stock.

A trader is typically someone trading on a short term regular and routine basis (e.g. daily), who’s intention is to profit from short to medium term price fluctuations.


Investing

An investor is generally someone who buys and sells Crypto Currencies on an ad hoc basis with the intention of increasing their wealth in the medium to longer term from price increases.

The profits (and losses) made are considered capital gains and losses.

An investor in Crypto Currencies that has made a capital gain will be taxed on the gain – but in certain circumstances will be entitled to the 50% discount if the asset sold was held for longer than 12 months.


Crypto currency and your business.

If your business accepts Crypto Currencies as payment for goods or services, these payments are treated in the same way as when you receive any other currency. If your business is registered for GST, the price paid by the person paying in CC will include GST. Likewise, if you purchase goods or services for use in your business with CC then you will be able to claim GST credits on the transaction in your activity statement, even though you used digital currency to make the purchase.

In an attempt to elaborate on the above I have included below some questions I received from one of our clients and have attempted to answer them.


I deposit AUD to buy say Bitcoin.

Answer – no tax consequences yet –  it is also assumed that Bitcoin was purchased, see below.


I use this Bitcoin to purchase alt coins in an ICO (initial coin offering).

Answer – as Crypto Currencies are considered assets this exchange will bring about a capital gains tax event (assuming that you are not trading) – thus the gain (or loss) will be on capital account and the gain (or loss) will be the difference between what you traded the Bitcoin (in Aus$) for and what you purchased the Bitcoin for (in Aus$)

If you are a trader, then the above applies except that the gain or loss would be on revenue account and there is no 50% discount if the Crypto Currencies is held for longer than 12 months.

Note the above assumes that the purchase of the Bitcoin was not for personal use.

I receive my alt coins from ICO into my online wallet a few weeks later.

Answer – no tax consequences – the cost base of the alt coins will include what was paid for them.

I sell these coins back into Bitcoin at a profit a few weeks after this.

Answer – This is another transaction – the effect is the same as in 2 above

I hold the Bitcoin on an exchange.

Answer – no tax consequences.

The price of the Bitcoin I now have can fluctuate wildly up and down.

Answer – no tax consequences, as the gains or losses are unrealised – only when an asset is exchanged, or some other capital gains tax event takes place – will there be capital gains tax consequences.

If you are a trader, then the value of the closing stock may be affected by market fluctuations.


Disclaimer

This post is for general information purposes only.

No action should be taken based on this information alone as your circumstances are unique and it is better to speak to a tax professional.

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