Tax dept starts probe into Bitcoin exchanges to ascertain rate they can be taxed under

Tax dept starts probe into Bitcoin exchanges to ascertain rate they can be taxed under

Tax Dept starts probe into Bitcoin exchanges to ascertain rate they can be taxed under.

 

The indirect tax department has launched an investigation into Bitcoin exchanges operating in India to ascertain at what rate they can be taxed under the goods and services tax (GST) regime, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The development comes as the income tax department launched searches on top Bitcoin exchanges including Zebpay, Unocoin and CoinSecure on Wednesday.

According to the indirect tax officers, the investigations began probe about a month back and top executives and promoters of some Bitcoin exchanges were asked to explain their business model and how much indirect tax — either service tax or value-added tax — could be levied on the last financial year's revenue.

"There is ambiguity around how much sales tax is applicable on revenues of these startups as the product they deal in is not defined by the current tax laws," said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. "No satisfactory answer is yet provided by any of these Bitcoin startups."

A senior executive at one of the top seven Bitcoin exchanges in the country confirmed that both direct and indirect tax officials have been questioning the company about its business model and taxability. "While the indirect tax department has been calling senior executives since mid-November, the direct tax officials started reaching out to us two weeks back," the person said.

Bitcoin is the most popular among digital currencies that allow online payments directly from one person to another without any middlemen or going through any financial institution. With many businesses beginning to accept them, there is rising demand for such cryptocurrencies that come without any government control and allow anonymous transactions. More than that, Bitcoin has become a craze among investors, with its value skyrocketing more than 1,200% in 2017 alone. Price of one Bitcoin stood at $17,900, or .`11.46 lakh, on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange as on Friday evening.

Among other things the tax department wants to know if Bitcoins are currency, goods or services. Tax rates would depend on how the product is defined.

"Bitcoin may not qualify as currency or money as it is not a legal tender for Indian indirect tax laws," said Pratik Jain, national leader, indirect tax, PwC. "Therefore, VAT (value-added tax) or GST implications may arise. In case it is sold to overseas customers from India it may qualify as 'export'." However, if there is a commission or fee earned in the transaction, then the business of Bitcoin exchanges is likely to be viewed as a 'service', Jain said. "There are several grey areas which need to be investigated, in light of the precedence and guidance available under laws of other countries."

Industry insiders said that Bitcoin players, including Indian exchanges, earn their revenue through commission, transaction fees or price arbitrage. There was no response to queries sent to Zebpay and CoinSecure on Wednesday. Unocoin told ET: "Given that we have not received any notice, none of your questions are relevant."

No tax notices have been issued yet. That can happen only after an investigation is concluded and the exact tax applicable is determined.

One person close to the development said the indirect tax department is likely to issue demand orders to Bitcoin exchanges by the first quarter of next year. "The sales tax department and VAT authorities would be well within their rights to issue arbitrary demand orders (for 2016-17, before the implementation of GST)," the person said. GST was put in place on July 1.

According to another person in the know, VAT authorities from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka have separately initiated an inquiry to determine if Bitcoin exchanges are liable to the tax.

Tax experts said calculating indirect tax on the revenue earned by the Bitcoin startups is causing problems due to lack of clarity around the 'place of supply' provisions.

Income-tax authorities too are on the trail of the Indian Bitcoin sector. ET reported on Monday on an ambiguity in income tax to be paid by Bitcoin holders in India. According to people with direct knowledge of the matter, the income tax authorities wanted access to data on Indian Bitcoin holders and the gains they have made.

The stratospheric rise in Bitcoin valuation has prompted several investors and experts, including Warren Buffet and JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon, to warn that it is a bubble. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has so far issued three warnings against Bitcoins — the first in 2013, the second in February this year and the third last week.

There are 1,600 types of cryptocurrencies available across the globe based on blockchain technology. The more common ones include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and Dash.

"One needs to choose a cryptocurrency wallet and an exchange to trade on the currency," said Vishal Gupta, founder of SearchTrade, a search engine company that uses Bitcoins to pay users every time they search on the platform. "From there it is as simple as filling out a form and waiting for the transaction to process."

Gupta, who also cofounded the Digital Assets and Blockchain Foundation India (DABFI), however, declined to share how players (wallet or facilitators) earn their revenues.

 

Authors: Sachin Dave, Vishal Dutta ET Bureau|Dec 16, 2017, 09.43 AM IST

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David ogden cryptocurrency entrepreneur

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Bitcoin Price Tripled in Last Year

bitcoin price trippled in last year

A collection of Bitcoins stand in this arranged photograph in Danbury, U.K., on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. Bitcoin, the digital currency, climbed on Wednesday to hit its highest levels since early November, amid fresh speculation that the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto — the virtual currency’s creator — may have finally been revealed. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bitcoin Price Tripled in Last One Year

A collection of Bitcoins stand in this arranged photograph in Danbury, U.K., on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. Bitcoin, the digital currency, climbed on Wednesday to hit its highest levels since early November, amid fresh speculation that the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto — the virtual currency’s creator — may have finally been revealed. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In April of 2016, Bitcoin price averaged at around $420 on most major Bitcoin exchange markets. Since then, over a period of 12 months, Bitcoin price tripled, increasing from $420 to $1257.

As previously reported, Bitcoin price is nearing its all-time high price set at $1,277, primarily due to the explosive growth of the Japanese Bitcoin industry.

Analysts expect Bitcoin price to increase consistently in the mid-term if key markets such as Japan and the US sustain their growth and if relatively small markets like India experience a massive change in regulatory frameworks for Bitcoin trading and usage.

Two key factors: India and Japan

For years, India was considered to be one of the more important markets for Bitcoin to penetrate because of the country’s poor banking system, declining financial platform and weak infrastructure. Today, local analysts and researchers note that 40 percent of Indian population remains unbanked.

The vast majority of households and individuals in India do not rely on banks or established financial institutions to manage their money for a few reasons.

Recently, the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 bank notes initiated by the Indian government led to a nationwide financial crisis, as banks and ATMs ran out of cash to dispense. Both the banked and unbanked populations of India have been struggling to obtain cash to fund day-to-day operations and basic necessities ever since.

Moreover, research and professional services firms such as PwC revealed that by October of 2015, 233 mln Indians had no access to bank accounts. According to Times of India, a prominent local publication, a UN report further revealed that 43 percent of adults in India made no deposits or withdrawals in banks.

“I have nearly Rs 20,000 saved up from the last so many years. I never knew how to do bank work, so I never had an account. I’ve had no need for one, and now I am stuck with all the cash but can’t use it to buy my supplies. I have some money saved but all in cash at home, as I did not know how to deposit in the bank,” said a full-time professional who resides in India.

Over the past few years, major Bitcoin exchanges and service providers in India were not able to demonstrate an exponential rate of growth in terms of user base and daily trading volume. It was only by early 2016 that exchanges such as Zebpay and Unocoin began to see a spike in their user base and trading volumes.

One key factor that would allow the Indian Bitcoin industry to grow at a rapid rate similar to China, South Korea and Japan is the legalization of Bitcoin as legal tender and currency. The central banks of the Philippines and Japan most recently legalized Bitcoin as legal tender, to help their local industries to grow and allow the general consumer base to utilize bitcoin.

For Bitcoin to achieve mainstream adoption in India, a legalization of the digital currency by local authorities is necessary. If Bitcoin becomes legalized by the end of May as many predicts, and millions of new users from India emerge as a result, Bitcoin price will likely surge in the mid-term. Therefore, for the mid-term, the performance of the Japanese, US and Indian markets should be considered as reasons to hold onto Bitcoin as an investment.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Source : Cointelegraph

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden