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Cryptocurrencies - Tax Issues & Other Regulations

In this article, we will cover Cryptocurrencies - Tax Issues & Other Regulations around it in India.


Crypto-currencies have recently been in the spotlight and under the scanner of the tax authorities primarily due to the high prices at which they were seen trading on exchanges in India and around the world. However, the crypto-currency ecosystem is not all only about the various coins, such as bitcoins, but also includes several other actors and participants. Due to the rapidly evolving business models and complexity of the underlying blockchain technology, regulators and tax authorities are yet to come out with clear positions on various issues. This article attempts to raise questions that still remain unresolved, particularly from the perspective of not only the taxation of crypto-currencies themselves but also the manner in which other participants in the crypro-currency ecosystem are regulated and taxed. This article will also differentiate between a crypto-currency and a utility token which are often interchangeably used in common parlance even though they are fundamentally different with their own unique set of tax challenges.



The crypto-currency ecosystem broadly involves the

  • miners
  • nodes
  • traders
  • crypto-currency exchanges
  • hash power rental companies
  • utility companies that issue tokens and
  • the casual consumer/customer who invests into bitcoins.

Briefly each of their roles are described below:

Crypto-currencies - Regulatory and Tax Issues


This is a term used to describe companies or individuals who use computing power to solve cryptographic problems generated by the blockchain When a miner is the first person to solve a particular cryptographic problem, then the miner is credited with a bitcoin by the blockchain software. For the sake of simplicity, the process of mining or solving the cryptographic problem should be understood to contribute toward the verification of a transaction that is conducted over the blockchain network, for instance, the transfer of a bitcoin from one wallet to another.


This is the term used to refer to computing terminals that are part of the system of computing devices that run the blockchain software. Each node has a copy of the blockchain on it. Therefore, the blockchain system is also called a distributed ledger system as the entire record of transactions verified by the blockchain system is available in entirety on every node. The blockchain system is also considered significantly more secure than other softwares primarily because for any transaction to be verified and entered into the distributed ledger or blockchain, more than half the number of nodes connected to the system need to verify the transaction. Therefore, unlike traditional network where with increasing number of participants the network gets increasingly insecure, since each new person could be a source of a hack, the blockchain system gets increasingly secure as controlling more than fifty per cent of the nodes becomes more difficult. Historically, before blockchain became a famous phenomenon, individuals used to use their personal computers or even cell phones for the purpose of mining. However, with the surge in popularity of bitcoin and decreasing supply of mineable bitcoins, miners today use sophisticated hardware that is specially designed for this purpose which provides high end computing power.


Traders are individuals or companies that in the business of buying and selling bitcoins with the intention of making a profit.

Crypto-currency Exchanges

Crypto- currency exchanges act as online platforms that enable the traders and casual customers to buy and sell crypto- Exchanges perform the important function of market making as crypto-currencies tend to be illiquid in nature and if not for the market created or enable by exchanges trades would become significantly difficult for casual customers especially. Exchanges often allow either a crypto to crypto trade or crypto to fiat currency trade and vice versa. Most of the buying and selling happen between third parties, namely traders or consumers and it is only in very rare scenarios do the exchanges themselves own the cryptocurrency. Some exchanges have also accepted payments or service fees in bitcoins for enabling transactions on the exchange and therefore may be in possession of the same. However, as explained later below, due to the apprehension that ownership of bitcoins may lead to complications under the Goods and Services Acts (GST) or under the Income-tax Act, 1961 (ITA), most exchanges had shifted to operating a mere online platform for fees. Exchanges also self-regulated themselves and implemented stringent KYC norms while onboarding a customer. However, recently the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has banned all institutions which fall under its regulatory framework from rendering services for any activity of virtual currencies. (Prohibition on dealing with Virtual Currencies, RBI Notification : RBI/2017-18/154 (6-4-2018))

This has caused severe hardship to exchanges and casual consumers who were conducting genuine trade activities. It is expected therefore that exchanges will shift operations abroad, which will result in a loss of revenue for the tax department.

Hash Power Rental Companies

Since mining operations require tremendous amounts of electricity, they appear to usually be globally located in places where cheap electricity is available. In some instances, tax breaks or incentives could result in mining operations being conducted in certain places. Such companies invest money in buying specialized computer equipment that has been designed and manufactured for the purpose of mining bitcoins and then rent the computing power to other miners or third parties in exchange for fees. Therefore, irrespective of whether the miner is actually rewarded the bitcoin or not, the hash power rental companies receive their service fees. These activities should not be affected by the RBI ban mentioned above as their activities are akin to the provision of a cloud computing service or an online data storage place. The ban should not be applicable to them solely because their client uses their computing power towards the mining of bitcoins. Additionally, the concern for RBI while imposing the ban would have been the inability to possibly track cross-border flow of bitcoins and therefore exchange of money effectively, which should not be a concern in this case as the hash power rental company in India is only being paid service fees.

Utility Companies that issue Utility Tokens

Companies have taken to tokenization to popularize their products or services using terms and jargon similar to that of crypto-currencies. However, there is a significant difference between utility tokens and crypto-currencies. Utility token are issued by a company and therefore there is a counter party involved in the issuance On the other hand, cryptocurrencies are issued or granted to the miners by the blockchain software on the solving of the cryptographic puzzle. For a utility token, mere fiat currency would be sufficient to purchase such tokens without conducting any mining activity in most instances. Secondly, the utility token is usually redeemable or exchangeable for services or products offered by the issuing company in the future. The bitcoin does not have any such utility or inherent value and its value is more often dictated by the vagaries of demand and supply. Therefore a utility token is similar to a top up card that is used in food courts where the money is merely tokenized. The tokens in themselves may have a market as they are usually freely tradeable and therefore their value may go up, which is similar to bitcoins. However, once exchanged for services the tokens are consumed which is unlike bitcoins.

Casual consumer/customer

Initially participants in the early stages of the blockchain network were casual participants who undertook this as a hobby or side Today, there are several individuals who are not traders but occasionally like to transact in bitcoins. The RBI ban has made it difficult for them to now sell the bitcoins they own and the prices have fallen as a result of the ban. Customers could also exchange bitcoins in return for any service or good, which is possible in countries like japan which have accepted bitcoins as a mode of payment. Prior to the ban, there was significant interest to undertake arbitrage trading where an individual would ideally want to purchase bitcoins outside India at a lower price and sell it within India where it was trading at a higher price at that point in time. However, the lack of clarity in the regulations and associated risks deterred many customers.



Based on the above description, several tax and regulatory concerns for these parties are highlighted below based on the activities they undertake:


  1. The RBI has not notified bitcoins or any other virtual currency as officially recognized currency till date and it look like an unlikely Usually fiat currencies are issued by a central bank or governmental authority and is backed by assets such as gold which are in the possession of the issuing entity. Bitcoin being granted by the blockchain software does not meet those qualifications. Had bitcoin been classified as currency, the impact would have  been that it is immediately out of the ambit of GST since ‘goods’ is defined not to include currency.
  2. Under the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, property of any kind that is movable property would qualify as a good provided it is sold for monetary Therefore, arguably bitcoins are goods under this act only in crypto to fiat or fiat to crypto transactions and as such barter transactions are not recognized (which would in theory include crypto to crypto transactions). Extending the same logic if a person were to purchase other goods using crypto, such transactions would also not be covered by the Sale of Goods Act, 1930.
  3. Under the ITA, capital assets are also defined to be property of any kind and is likely to cover bitcoins as The question then arises as to whether bitcoins could also qualify as stock-in-trade. Based on earlier clarifications by the Central Board of Direct taxes (CBDT) with respect to classification of shares as capital assets or stock-in-trade, it may be possible to take a view that a bitcoin sold by a casual consumer is a capital asset while a trader could possibly treat them as stock in trade. If it is treated as stock-in-trade then taxes would be payable on the consideration received under the head of business income.
  4. Further, once a bitcoin is treated as a capital asset, depending on its period of holding, cost of acquisition and the sale consideration, capital gains should be payable at the time of When consideration is received in fiat currency, there is no difficulty, however in barter transactions, valuation of the consideration could lead to issues or disputes. Further, cost of acquisition is may also prove a challenge when the bitcoin is not acquired from another third party. When a bitcoin is mined, there are no specific rules as to how the cost of acquisition should be calculated. In such a situation, it is possible that it may not be calculable and therefore no capital gains tax should be payable. Alternatively, the expenses incurred in setting up the mining equipment and the running expenses could be counted towards the cost of acquisition and improvement.
  5. Even in situations where the bitcoin is acquired in exchange for services through a barter transaction, issues can be raised as to the value of the consideration received. As bitcoins are traded around the world at different rates and even intra-day prices could significantly differ, it is possible that this could also potentially lead to litigation.
  6. With respect to hash power rental companies, their service fees would be the income that would be subject to income tax, but not the bitcoin that their mining operation generates since that would be deemed be the assets of the customer who has hired their Therefore, this situation should be similar to a company that does research and development for a third party under contract.
  7. For individuals, especially those that had bought bitcoins using cash in the early days of bitcoin or non-resident Indians (NRI), the risk of being scrutinized is When an NRI owns bitcoins outside India then there is no obligation to disclose the existence of the same in India. It is only when an NRI derives income from sale of assets in India that there is a requirement to disclose the same and pay taxes. However, if the NRI were to sell the bitcoins outside India and were to attempt to remit the money into India, since they would have made huge gains, chances are that it will be scrutinized closely. It may even be possible for Income Tax authorities to send notices, as they have in the past, asking about the source of income or the money and to show proof that it is not undisclosed income or black money. This could be a significant problem since at times it may be difficult to prove the manner in which bitcoins were acquired in the early days of the ecosystem. It is also tricky to establish that the bitcoin was located outside India since it is a locationless asset and the closest approximation of a location could be the wallet on it was stored at the time of acquisition. However, it is possible that the consumers are not aware as to the location of the server on which the wallet is hosted in which case it could lead to litigation. 
  8. Similarly, for resident Indians who have bought bitcoins outside India, they are under an obligation to disclose foreign assets and money in their foreign bank Here again, the risks highlighted about with respect to source of funds and location of the asset could prove to be thorny issues even for genuine consumers. Should there be any default detected on their part the penalties could potentially be high.
  9. GST should also be applicable to trades of crypto-currencies as the definition of goods is wide enough to cover intangible property including crypto-currencies. In such an event, when the bitcoin is sold for cash, there would be a single supply that should be subject to Should the bitcoin be traded for another good, it should be considered a barter or in fact two simultaneous supplies and therefore GST would be payable twice resulting in a significant GST impact.
  10. If the supply of bitcoin is by a consumer, but not in course of his business, for instance to buy icecream, then it should not a taxable supply under GST.
  11. Being a locationless good, there are difficulties in determining whether it is an inter-State or intra-State supply of This would also impact whether the trades are across borders or not as well. The taxation and registration implications would differ significantly based on that.
  12. Issues may arise in respect of exchanges as to the value on which GST is payable. Ideally it should only be on the service fee component charged by them, however, the tax authorities may take a different view on the matter.
  13. While there is better clarity on hash power rental companies from a tax standpoint as they can be treated similar to any IT support services company, the Registrar of Companies may refuse to incorporate companies which mention crypto-currencies in the AOA or MOA, which could present a significant practical challenge. Additionally, banks may also choose to be conservative in interpreting the RBI ban and refuse to open a bank account for such companies.
  14. Initial coin offerings, depending on the terms and conditions, could also amount to being securities in which case SEBI may scrutinize such transaction closely in the future.
  15. Utility tokens are more akin to actionable claims as they represent a claim in relation to moveable property or services and therefore may not be taxable under GST which exempts actionable claims from GST, except for betting, gambling and lotteries. Such tokens, depending on the terms and conditions could also amount to a voucher under GST and if they do not qualify as an actionable claim, then the point of taxation is shifted to time at which the token is actually exchanged for services or goods.



The potential for blockchain technology is huge. It has the ability to be the backbone of India’s digital infrastructure securing all the transactions made on the digital network. Keeping this is mind, it is clear that the technology is here to stay. Outrightly banning crypto-currencies is shortsighted and despite the complexities involved, there are sufficient benefits to consider regulating it and limiting misuse. Globally most countries have embraced it, while only countries with exchange control restrictions such as China or India have banned it. The ban imposed by RBI would be difficult to enforce in practice and as such, consumers lose value, exchanges lose business, the Government loses taxes, while most likely the trades will move either abroad or underground. This is a situation where all stakeholders lose and only way forward is to recognize the flaws of the current approach and take the steps necessary to regulate crypto- currencies in India.


The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that we are not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. CA Mitesh and Associates is Mumbai's leading Cryptocurrency Taxation Firm which is committed to helping people navigate complex tax laws and banking regulations. Our main aim is to assist the individuals with applicable laws & regulations compliance and providing support at each & every level to make sure that they stay compliant and grow continuously. For any query, help or feedback you may get in touch here - Appointment with CA

CA in Mumbai | Chartered Accountant in Mumbai | Tax Consultant | Tax Advisor | Borivali | Kandivali | Malad

How To Pay Tax On Cryptocurrency In India

Tax On Cryptocurrency In India

How To Pay Tax On Cryptocurrency In India

In this article, we shall focus on Crypto traders dilemma as to How To Pay Tax On Cryptocurrency In India. First, a little about us - We are the leading crypto tax consultants in India. We handle all your Income Tax compliances for any incomes arising on any Blockchain or cryptocurrency trading. So while you invest, trade, mine, run nodes or offer Blockchain solutions, we are happy to take care of your crypto taxes for you.

Ok, now back to main topic, Under Indian tax laws, the nature of virtual currency investments is unclear. What is certain is there’s no escaping taxes. Notices have reportedly been served to about 500,000 investors for non-payment of taxes. In the past few months, crypto exchanges, too, have appeared on the Reserve Bank of India’ and the government’s radar. The RBI has forbidden banks from dealing with these exchanges and investors in any fashion, while a panel formed by the Narendra Modi government is working on draft regulations for digital currencies. In such volatile times, We have urging our clients to not skip paying taxes.

As the deadline for filing I-T returns approaches, here’s a look at what investors could do.


Tax On Cryptocurrency for Individual investors

As the tax treatment of  cryptocurrency continues to be in the grey zone, it is open to interpretation.

In case of gains, you have to state profits or capital gains made by you from transaction in cryptocurrencies year-wise with statements showing the workings says the tax notice sent by the I-T department to investors in the last few months. As a result, most chartered CAs including us are inclined to treat these investments as capital gains tax.

The premise of capital gains is that an investment will be held for a certain period of time so that its value appreciates. These taxes are divided into ****short-term and long-term.

For most investments such as equities, jewellery, land, debt funds, etc. the time period is specified, according to which an item may be taxed under short-term or long-term gains. However, since it is not specified, we are going to assume and take the longer time-frame of three years, and only after holding the investment for three years it will be called long-term gains.

In case of a short-term gain, the amount is added to the income and taxed according to the tax slab that an individual falls under. For instance, anyone who earns over Rs10 lakh ($14,614) will be taxed at 30%.

If it falls under the long-term category, it will be taxed at 20%. The tax rate can go down further once indexation benefit is applied, which allows one to adjust for inflation during the period these investments were held. Every year, the Central Board of Direct Taxes releases the cost inflation on which these assessments are done.

However, since details of the tax treatment are unclear, We suggests a safer alternative is to report it as income from other sources. In this case, the amount gets added to the salary or business income and then taxes are paid on it as per the slab under which an individual falls.


Tax On Cryptocurrency for traders

For a trader, earnings from virtual currencies are treated as income from business. Under this, certain expenses related to business, office maintenance, such as buying a computer, internet expenses, office rent, administration cost, etc., can be deducted. Then, on the remaining amount, tax will be applicable as per the slab.

If you are a trader and your turnover crosses the Rs 2 crore mark, you need to go for a tax audit by a chartered accountant.

Another key issue is choosing the right form to file returns. Depending on whether an individual is treating it as capital gains or income from other sources or business, ITR2 or ITR3 must be picked.


The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that we are not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. CA Mitesh and Associates is India's leading Cryptocurrency Taxation Firm which is committed to helping people navigate complex tax laws and banking regulations. Our main aim is to assist the individuals with applicable laws & regulations compliance and providing support at each & every level to make sure that they stay compliant and grow continuously. For any query, help or feedback you may get in touch here - Appointment with CA. Please note the all consultations with the CA are Paid consultations.

India Cryptocurrency Taxation

Cryptocurrency Taxation in India

While India Cryptocurrency Taxation scene is still evolving, in this post I will cover how the cryptocurrency might be taxed in India.

India Cryptocurrency Taxation under Direct Tax Regime

The treatment of cryptocurrencies under the direct tax regime is mainly governed by the Income Tax Act in India. In the current legal landscape, there is no certainty regarding the taxation of cryptocurrency nor any disclosure requirement about the income earned is issued by the Income Tax Department.

Moving on, if cryptocurrency is considered as 'currency', it would not be susceptible to tax under the IT Act.

  • The first reason being, under the Act, the definition of 'income' is an inclusive one, which comprises not only the 'natural' meaning but also the items mentioned under Sec 2(24) of the IT Act. But neither the natural meaning nor Sec 2(24) of the IT Act includes 'money' or 'currency' as income, although it includes 'monetary payment'.
  • Secondly, being a mode of consideration, the tax incidence would be on the transaction and not on the currency. On the other hand, if cryptocurrency is considered as goods/property, then clearly it would be either covered within the charging provision of 'Profit and Gains from Business and Profession' or 'Income from Capital Gains', depending upon its use for business/profession or not. It would not be out of place to state that the ambit of the word 'income' is not restricted to the words 'profits' and 'gains' and anything which can appropriately be designated as 'income' is liable to be taxed under the IT Act, unless expressly exempted.

Treatment under the head 'Capital Gains'

Sec 2(14) of the IT Act defines a capital asset as "property of any kind held by the assessee whether or not connected with his business or profession".  This definition of 'capital asset' provided is widest in itself and covers all kinds of property except those expressly excluded under the Act.0 Therefore, any gains arising out of the transfer of cryptocurrency must be considered as capital gains, if they are held for investment.

Taxability under 'Profit and Gains from Business and Profession'

The tax treatment of cryptocurrencies when held as 'stock in trade' is not the one which faces major difficulties as the issues arising while treating it as capital gains do not arise when such cryptocurrencies are held in furtherance of business activity. Under Sec 2(13) of the IT Act, the definition of 'business' is inclusive, and comprises of "trade, commerce or manufacture or any adventure or concern of such nature." Moreover, any continuous activity like trade in cryptocurrencies is included within this definition, and profits realized are taxable thereunder, chargeable under Sec 28 of the IT Act.

The profits may not necessarily be in the form of money, they are taxable even if they are 'in-kind'. Any expenditure incurred for this purpose, such as the purchase of computing power as a capital asset, should be allowable as a deduction per the provisions specified in Sec 30 to Sec 43D of the IT Act.

India Cryptocurrency Taxation under Indirect Tax Regime

The treatment of cryptocurrency as goods/property implies that the supply of bitcoins is a 'taxable supply' and hence subject to GST. Technically, a supply of cryptocurrency as goods or property in exchange for other virtual/real goods should fall within the ambit of 'barter transaction' since bartering is simply an exchange of one good for another.

Even in its most innovative form, any barter transaction has two essentials -

  1. Direct exchange of goods or services for other goods/services and
  2. No use of money

    Before GST,  under the various state VAT laws, the incidence of tax arose when there was a sale of goods in exchange for cash, deferred payment, or any other valuable consideration. The expression 'any other valuable consideration' leaves out a wide scope of ambiguity, since the term should typically derive reference, ejusdem generis, from its preceding terms (i.e. cash and deferred payment), and therefore, must not include an exchange of goods for other goods. This view was reiterated by the Supreme Court in the case of Sales Tax Commissioner v. Ram Kumar Agarwal, where a transaction of gold bullions in exchange for ornaments was excluded from the definition of sale under Sec 2(h) of the Sale of Goods Act, 1930. However, the position is similar to when a transaction is used as a device to conceal monetary consideration, courts may unravel the device to include it within the ambit of sale.

    An approach where cryptocurrencies are considered as goods means that some transactions would be taxed twice - at first on supply (otherwise exempted for a transaction in money) and secondly on consideration, unnecessarily leading to higher tax. This higher incidence of taxation puts the businesses operating in cryptocurrencies at a huge disadvantage which also diminishes their purchasing capacity. The issue gets further complicated in cases of international transactions.


The crypto in today's scenario has the potential to boost the backbone of India's digital infrastructure and also securing all the transactions made on the digital network. In this situation levying taxes on the transactions involving cryptocurrency should be considered a welcoming move and should not be seen as a restriction. It is a two way street for the crypto transactions to be traced and used legally as well as generating income for the government to be used efficiently. It is also vehemently asserted that employing tax on crypto as a policy matter can help to provide an ideal atmosphere to assure the traders that their money is safe and the risks involved in trading are also mitigated.