Bitcoin, digital currencies

bitcoinsc _minAs part of the 2017-18 Budget, the Government announced it would remove the double GST taxation of digital currency from 1 July 2017.

GST does not apply to money. Treating crypto currencies as money would therefore remove the GST implications on bitcoin.

A process of consultation and the development of draft legislation has now been completed. See GST – removing the double taxation of digital currency.

From 1 July 2017, digital currency is treated just like money for GST purposes.

For the legislation passed to give effect to these changes – see media release and Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 6) Bill 2017

How Bitcoin is taxed

Some think that Bitcoin is better than gold and USD, and speculation has been clearly gathering steam. The rapid increase in attention on cryptocurrencies has been noticed by tax authorities around the world.

In Australia Bitcoin is now treated like money for GST purposes, but for income tax (including CGT) purposes more general rules apply.

What happens to digital currency profits for tax purposes?

Answers to this question depend on why the Bitcoin was acquired and how it was used.

Potential scenarios include –

  • profits 100% taxed (e.g. a person acquires bitcoin with the intention of speculating that the price will increase)
  • 50% of profits are taxed (e.g. CGT rules apply, owned for more than 12 months)
  • tax free (e.g. it’s a ‘personal use‘ asset under the CGT rules)

See article “Taxation of Bitcoin in Australia” by Drew Pflaum.

Personal use assets acquired for less than $10,000 are disregarded for CGT purposes. The mere act of mining a bitcoin is not automatically considered by the Tax Office to be a profit-making venture; on a small scale it can be simply a hobby.

Regulation of digital currencies

Concerns about money-laundering and the deployment of cryptocurrencies in criminal conduct, has led Australian authorities to regulate its use.

A loophole in the definition of currency has hitherto allowed cryptocurrencies to escape the Austrac oversight which applies to financial services. Those regulations are designed to detect material movements of money, look through shields of anonymity and track proceeds of crimes.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017  approved by the federal parliament expands (amongst other purposes) the scope of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 to include digital currency exchange providers. The old definition of “e-currency” is replaced with an expanded definition of “digital currency”.

See further

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This page was last modified 2018-09-26