The growing volume and value of cryptocurrency transactions across trading exchanges are grappling with the attention of the legislative bodies and tax authorities in India. With taxation, governments can achieve three major goals. First, regulate the cryptocurrency market in the larger interest of the public. Second, stop money laundering and illegal use of the asset. And, third, generate revenue from the trade in the form of income tax and GST.
The Constitution of India under Article 246 grants the power to levy taxes to the Parliament as well as the state legislatures to impose taxes. Article 265 warrants the need for a predefined law before the Income Tax Department can impose the tax.
Now, all eyes are on the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 that was discussed in the Lok Sabha and is scheduled to be tabled in Lok Sabha on March 08, 2021.
Though the bill sought a ban on cryptocurrencies and the launch of an official cryptocurrency under the ambit of the RBI, this sounds like a distant dream. Meanwhile, top cryptocurrency entrepreneurs in India have united against the government decision under the umbrella of ABCE (Association for Blockchain & Crypto and Digital asset Entrepreneurs).
They want to have a dialogue with stakeholders in the Indian government, regulators, and policymakers. The purpose is to explain the benefits of crypto to the government clearly and convince them. In a nutshell, the entrepreneurs expect regulation of digital currencies rather than a ban.
Under the current Income Tax Act, there is no specified field in the Income Tax Return Filing (ITR) form where citizens or PAN holders can disclose the income gained through cryptocurrency trading. However, if they liquidate or withdraw the cryptocurrency income, and transfer it to their bank account, then the interest paid by the bank against the deposit has to be disclosed under the regular Interest Income field.
Here is a second thought! Cryptocurrency is a currency that can’t be taxed under the IT Act. It’s the income that is taxed, not the currency. Sec 2(24) of the IT Act doesn’t consider “money” or ‘currency’ as income, although it includes ‘monetary payment’. The taxation has to be on the transaction and not on the currency.
What if cryptocurrency is treated as goods/property? Will it attract the GST, or do you need to pay a GST when you buy or sell crypto? The answer is Yes. Indirect taxes are part of crypto trading as exchanges charge a transaction fee over the trade, and for the service they render, and the fee they earn comes under the ambit of GST. Like any other business, they have to deposit the GST earned over the service. As it’s a service industry, it would be 18% as per the current tax regime.
There is one more way of indirect taxation. Guess? The acceptance of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as payment means by merchants paves the way for more GST collection. As consumers find more ways to use cryptocurrency, they are likely to invest more. If you are a business and wondering about the implementation of bitcoin as a payment mode, you are not new. Check BitcoinWide to know businesses that accept bitcoin as payment. This latest trend is all set to maximize the government’s revenue, provided the government embraces it by regulating cryptocurrency trading.