With cryptocurrency prices soaring over the last few years, many Indians have raked in instant wealth. But paying taxes on this income has turned into a nightmare.
This is so because under Indian tax laws, the nature of virtual currency investments is unclear. What is certain is there’s NO ESCAPING TAXES.
In December 2017, the income tax (I-T) department surveyed several cryptocurrency exchanges in the country to understand their modus operandi and user base. Since then, notices have reportedly been served to about 500,000 investors for non-payment of taxes. In the past few months, the bourses, too, have appeared on the Reserve Bank of India’ and the government’s radar.
So without further delay, below are some FAQs on Cryptocurreny and it's Taxation.
1 - Question on Classification of cryptocurrencies trading
Whether cryptocurrencies can be classified as either capital gains or business income?
In view of Section 2(14) of the Income-tax Act 1961, a capital asset means a property of any kind held by a person, whether or not connected with his business or profession. The term 'property', though has no statutory meaning, yet it signifies every possible interest which a person can acquire, hold or enjoy.
Therefore, bitcoin could be deemed as capital assets if they are purchased for the purpose of investments by taxpayers. Any gain arising on transfer of a cryptocurrencies shall be taxable as capital gains. However, if the transactions are substantial and frequent, it could be held that the taxpayer is trading in cryptocurrencies. In this case, the income from sale of cryptocurrencies would be taxable as business income,
However, as far as India is concerned, you would not find any business dealing in cryptocurrencies. You will find brokers and investors, who deal regularly in stocks and commodities, but when it comes to cryptocurrencies, you would never find any broker who is holding a virtual currency as a stock in trade Wadhwa added.
Therefore, the gains made from investing in bitcoins or virtual currencies are taxable as capital gains, and to calculate capital gains, one needs to first calculate the period of holding. If investors hold cryptocurrencies for 36 months or more, the gains would be taxable as long-term capital gains (LTCG), and less than 36 months, it would be short-term capital gains (STCG).
Short-term capital gains are taxable as per the slab rates applicable to a taxpayer. And long-term capital gains are taxed at the flat rate of 20% with the benefit of indexation.
When it comes to filing ITR, individuals having taxable income more than ₹50 lakh have to mandatorily fill in Schedule AL in ITR forms, which contains information related to investments in mutual funds and securities, including cryptocurrencies.
Moreover, if a company or a partnership firm has made an investment out of their business funds into a cryptocurrency, then it is mandatory for them to show it in their balance sheet as they have to follow the accounting standards.
2 - Question from Client on Crypto arbitrage using debit card
Hi Sir, I am purchasing bitcoin in foreign exchange through debit card and selling them in indian exchange and repeating the cycle . is there any legal complications in doing so. Kindly let me know.
There is no illegality as of now for trading in cryptocurrency in India. However, arbitrage arises when you are buying/selling cryptocurrency abroad and selling/buying them in India to get the benefit of changes in the rates. It implies that there may be usage of foreign exchange.
Since you will be selling in India and you are a resident of India, the profits that you earn in India will be taxable in India. You will pay taxes only on your share of profits. Further, currently there is no clarity on GST on bitcoin transactions.
Banking compliances would be there for foreign payments, such as Form 15CA.
3 - Question from Client - Is it legal to buy cryptocurrency in USA and sell in India?
As there are some arbitrage in cryptocurrency exchanges in USA and INDIA , is it legal to send USD to friend in USA and let her buy bitcoin over there and tell her to send those bitcoin to your wallet and later on sell these bitcoins in India?
Scenario is ,
Lets say I transfer 100$ to her US bank account. She buys bitcoin in US crypto exchange and transfer those bitcoins to my wallet. I encash those bitcoins and lets say I get INR equivalent to 105 $ . Then
1. Do I have to pay tax on 105$ or the 5$ earned?
2. And how I can link my 100$ transfer to my friend and 105$ gained by selling bitcoin?
3. If above scenario is possible then what are the documents I will need to support it ?
1) You will pay tax on $5 and not on the entire $105. There are no clearly defined laws in India regulating the sale and purchase of bitcoins. So there is nothing legal neither illegal in trading in cryptocurrency / bitcoins as of now.
2) You will have get the transaction details from the exchange and have to calculate capital gains basis that.
3) As mentioned in Point 2. You need to have the transaction details from the exchange and have to calculate capital gains basis that.
4 - Question on Accounting Method and Cryptocurrencies tax treatment
1) Should I consider LIFO or FIFO for tax calculations for cryptocurrencies capital gains?
2) cryptocurrencies or shares sold but the Fiat was not transferred to bank account and was still in Demat account / crypto exchange, and within next few days more cryptocurrencies / shares were purchased using that very same Fiat(capital+profit) within same financial year, will the capital gain tax be paid on it or it is to be paid when the Fiat is transferred to bank account in future?
1. It should be FIFO method.
2. Capital gain is applicable on sale of cryptocurrencies. It is nothing to do with bank account transfer.
5 - Question on setoff of capital losses against capital gains
1. Is it possible to adjust short term capital gains with short term capital losses occurred in the same Financial year, if yes is there a provision to carry forward the adjustment.
2. If another cryptocurrency/asset is purchased against some other cryptocurrency/asset will that also be considered as sale of the previous asset?
1) Yes, you can adjust short term capital gain with short term capital loss in the same year. You can also carry forward the remaining loss to subsequent years.
2) Yes, Exchange of cryptos will be termed as sale. Any exchange to a stable coin or to any other coin will ALSO be treated as sales.
6 - Question on transaction location
If the exchange of cryptocurrencies/assets takes place outside India, will it come under Indian tax law?
If you are resident of india your global income is taxable in india as per secton 9 of the income tax act 1961.
Please schedule a consultation in case you need more clarity on any of the above topics
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