- Levying taxes on income and capital gains from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is now common.
- Nine nations are bucking the trend, keen to see how this emerging asset class develops and to encourage innovation.
- Even in these countries, tax laws are subject to change and are often complex.
But while some countries are putting pressure on investors and levying taxes on income and capital gains from Bitcoin transactions, many are taking a different approach—often with the aim of promoting better adoption and innovation within the crypto industry. They’ve implemented friendlier legislation, and allow investors to buy, sell, or hold digital assets with no tax liability.
Here’s our list of the nine most crypto-friendly tax jurisdictions.
Belarus may be a Bitcoin tax haven but it’s also been the site of mass protests over rigged elections in recent in recent weeks. Image: Shutterstock
Belarus is taking an experimental approach to cryptocurrencies. In March 2018, a new law legalized cryptocurrency activities in the East European state, exempting individuals and businesses involved in them from taxes until 2023 (when it will come up for review.)
Under the law, mining and investing in cryptocurrencies are deemed personal investments, and so exempt from income tax and capital gains.
The liberal laws aim to boost the development of a digital economy, and technological innovation. The country was recently ranked third in Eastern Europe and 19th globally in levels of P2P crypto trading.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Image: Pixabay
Germany offers a unique take on taxing digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Unlike most other states, Europe’s biggest economy regards Bitcoin as private money, as opposed to a currency, commodity, or stock.
For German residents, any cryptocurrency held for over a year is tax-exempt, regardless of the amount. If the assets are held for less than a year, capital gains tax doesn’t accrue on a sale, as long as the amount does not exceed 600 euros ($692).
However, for businesses it’s a different matter; a startup incorporated in Germany still needs to pay corporate income taxes on cryptocurrency gains, just as it would with any other asset.
3. Hong Kong
Bitcoin ads in the bank district of Hong Kong. Image: BAHK
Hong Kong’s tax legislation on cryptocurrencies is a broad brush affair, even after new guidance was issued earlier this year.
Essentially, whether cryptocurrencies are taxed or not depends on their use, according to Henri Arslanian, a global crypto leader at PwC.
“If digital assets are bought for long-term investment purposes, any profits from disposal would not be chargeable to profits tax,” he wrote in March when the directive was introduced. But he added that this doesn’t apply to corporations—their Hong-Kong sourced profits from cryptocurrency business activities are taxable.
Malaysia is working to overhaul its crypto tax policies by the end of this year. Image: Shutterstock.
In Malaysia, cryptocurrency transactions are currently tax-free, and cryptocurrencies don’t qualify for capital gains tax, because digital currencies are not considered assets or legal tender by the authorities.
But the law is currently fluid; it only applies to individual taxpayers, and businesses involved in cryptocurrency are subject to Malaysian income tax.
And things may soon change. Mohamad Fauzi Saat, director of Malaysia’s tax department said in 2018 that Malaysia was committed to working towards issuing comprehensive guidelines on the tax treatment of cryptocurrency by the end of 2020.
Malta is trying hard to throw off a reputation for tax evasion and money laundering. IMAGE: Shutterstock
Malta doesn’t apply capital gains tax to long-held digital currencies like Bitcoin, but crypto trades are considered similar to day trading in stocks or shares, and attract business income tax at the rate of 35%. However, this can be mitigated to between five percent and zero, through “structuring options” available under the Maltese system.
Malta’s fiscal guidelines, published in 2018, also discriminate between Bitcoin and so-called “financial tokens,” equivalent to dividends, interest or premiums. The latter are treated as income and taxed at the applicable rate.
Portugal has adopted liberal tax laws towards cryptocurrencies, in a bid to encourage innovation. Image: Shutterstock
Portugal has one of the most crypto-friendly tax regimes in the world.
Proceeds from the sale of cryptocurrencies by individuals have been tax-exempt since 2018, and cryptocurrency trading is not considered investment income (which is normally subject to a 28% tax rate.)
However, businesses that accept digital currencies as payment for goods and services are liable to income tax.
Singapore is a hub for fintech innovation. Image: Unsplash.
Capital gains tax does not exist in Singapore, so neither individuals nor corporations holding cryptocurrency are liable.
But companies based in Singapore are liable to income tax, if their core business is cryptocurrency trading, or if they accept cryptocurrency as payment.
The authorities consider payment tokens such as Bitcoin to be “intangible property” rather than legal tender, and payment in the cryptocurrency constitutes a “barter trade” where the goods and services are taxed, but not the payment token itself.
Slovenia has taken a wait and see approach to taking cryptocurrencies. Image: Shutterstock.
Slovenia is another country that treats individuals and businesses separately under its cryptocurrency tax system.
No capital gains tax is levied on individuals when they sell Bitcoin, and gains are not considered income. However, companies that receive payment in cryptocurrencies, or through mining, are required to pay tax at the corporate rate.
Notably, the Mediterranean country doesn’t permit business operations in cryptocurrency alone (such as only accepting Bitcoin as payment.)
A Bitcoin Awareness Game sticker in Basel, Switzerland. Image: @btcstreetart
It’s no surprise that Switzerland, home to the innovation hub known as “Crypto Valley”, has one of the most forward-thinking tax policies too.
Cryptocurrency profits made by a qualified individual through investing and trading are treated as tax-exempt capital gains.
However, income from professional trading and mining is subject to income tax. And, notably, tax laws differ regionally, and an annual “wealth tax” is levied on the total amount of cryptocurrencies owned, along with the rest of an individual’s net worth.