When Bitcoin first launched in 2009, it was conceived as a borderless currency that was unaffected by the rules, regulations, and bureaucracies of central governments. It was built to be a free-standing currency, ideally suited for facilitating commerce in the digital age.
Having cut out the institutional middleman, many crypto investors never considered that they would have to pay these people anyway in the form of crypto taxes.
Of course, crypto taxes are a reality for investors around the world. While crypto will now play a prominent part in the future of finance, it is still connected to today’s institutions.
These taxes and governmental expectations vary by region, country, or even state, but a broad look at the crypto tax landscape has one thing in common – everyone will pay what they owe.
Here is a look at the current state of crypto taxes around the world.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. government organization responsible for tax law, virtual currencies are treated as property, making them taxable based on their annual appreciation or depreciation at tax time.
Moreover, the U.S. government doesn’t recognize digital tokens as currency, so the tax laws don’t make any provisions for currency conversion tax incentives.
Consequently, U.S. crypto investors can be taxed for buying a digital token that appreciates in value, mining virtual currencies, and receiving cryptocurrency in exchange for goods and services. Each of these episodes requires the token owner to report the fair market value in U.S. dollars for the token at the time of the sale using published exchange rates to determine their value.
This complicated process is a considerable burden to crypto users, and many have vowed not to report or pay taxes on their digital assets. Meanwhile, the more legally-minded users are turning to cryptocurrency accounting software to automatically generate these records with price conversions in an auditable, tax-friendly report.
The expanding crypto ecosystem and the stagnant U.S. tax policy has made crypto portfolio tracking a veritable must-have service for users the United States.
Although the European Union consolidates many of its laws, the countries have radically different financial policies and tax codes. Consequently, they’ve taken a decentralized approach to crypto taxes, something that could benefit investors in some countries while impairing interest in others.
For example, in Germany, Bitcoin isn’t subject to a capital gains tax, which protects investors from paying significant sums when their tokens appreciate. While German citizens are required to pay income tax on cryptocurrencies purchased within one year, they are exempt from this tax after one year.
Interestingly, Switzerland, often known as a bastion of open finance, has more stringent tax policies for crypto investors that require them to pay income tax, profit tax, and wealth tax.
To put it simply, the laws across the E.U. vary considerably, and it’s unlikely that there will be a concerted effort to centralize these policies anytime soon.
Cryptocurrencies have been indelibly popular in Asian nations, which have taken different approaches to the new technology.
For instance, in Japan, where cryptocurrency is legal for making payments, digital tokens are taxed as commodities that are subject to income tax, capital gains tax, and company tax. While the country has made it easier for crypto users to file taxes, which can range from 15% to 55%, users still endure a complicated process since they are required to pay taxes on asset and conversion gains.
Other nations, like South Korea, are looking at the entire crypto ecosystem as an opportunity to derive financial benefit by taxing both digital currencies and ICOs.
Regardless of location, central governments don’t want to miss out on the tax revenues made possible by the crypto ecosystem that includes digital token appreciation, crypto payments, crypto mining, and other ancillary features.
As these assets become more ingrained in traditional financial systems, these tax laws are unlikely to abate, although they may become more consolidated and understandable with time. It may be tricky to navigate today’s mismatched and complicated tax system, but the taxes themselves are a reminder of one important reality – crypto is here to stay, and users should decide on their best practices for navigating this landscape because it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.